A Ugandan victim of human trafficking in Asia, Alicia Namutebi, has said that she was saved by “the grace of God”.
The mother of three was taken to Thailand in 2002, spent about four months there and later returned to Uganda with the help of Ugandans who helped her renew her passport.
Speaking during a workshop organised by Platform for Labour Action (PLA) in Kampala, Namutebi said a certain man who found her selling shoes at Gazaland Complex in Kampala later convinced her that she would get a teaching job in Thailand.
“I didn’t have a passport, so he helped me to process for it in concerned offices. He then told me that I would pass through China.”
On arrival at an airport in China, she was received by a certain woman, with whom they went to her home. Namutebi spent the following two weeks at the women’s place.
“Later the woman told me that the only job that was available was prostitution. She then took me to a street where there were a lot of Ugandan girls involved in commercial sex.
“On coming back [from day one on the streets], I told the woman that there was nobody who bargained for me. The woman chased me and the only option was going to the street,” she told her attentive audience.
On the street, Namutebi met a black woman married to a white man, who offered to take me to Thailand.
“I rejected but the woman said that there was no other option. Men could come, park their cars and we could scramble to pull them to buy us,” she told of her desperation.
She told of how once she was ‘bought’ [her services] at $300 (about sh1m) that was given to “my boss” instead (the black woman).
But then, there was a twist of events.
“I told him to go and have his money refunded because I could not manage what he wanted. The man said ‘sorry’, he removed a Bible and gave it to me, and I spent the whole night reading.”
The next day, the man took her to church where he showed her Ugandans.
“I narrated to them how I had been promised a job of teaching but later ended up in commercial sex. They took me to the Ugandan consulate in Bangkok, Thailand where my passport was renewed,” Namutebi told the workshop.
“These volunteers later mobilized for my return ticket to Uganda.”
She arrived in Uganda in August 2002. “I have settled now. I am working for my children.”
But unlike Namutebi, who got a lucky break out of prositution, many Ugandans, with untold stories, remain locked up in the claws of the practice abroad.
Meanwhile, PLA’s rights and social protection manager, Joy Katoono, said research shows that the biggest percentage of human trafficked victims from Uganda were taken to Arabia, followed by Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar.
Other countries comprised of 14% of the victims.