Thursday, May 30, 2013

Uganda, Ethiopia women tells of being sex slave in Asia – Bikya News

ADDIS ABABA and SINGAPORE: Ugandan girls are being trafficked and forced to work as sex slaves in Asia at an alarming number, Uganda’s High Commissioner to India Nimisha Madhvan said.
The envoy said the young girls are trafficked into India, Singapore and other countries by businessmen who promise them good jobs.
“They bring you here and hold your passport until you pay back the money they used to transport you,” said Nimisha.
Uganda, Ethiopia women tells of being sex slave in Asia“The girls are pushed to Nigerians to have sex and after paying back the costs, they are left to fend for themselves, leading to their suffering here,” she said when briefing the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, and members of the Parliamentary Commission, who were in India to attend the Inter-Parliamentary Union Female Speakers’ conference.
Carol Lwabi, the First Secretary of the Uganda High Commission in India, told the Ugandan delegation that after holding onto the girls’ passports, the traffickers would tell them not to go to the high commission by lying to them that they would be arrested if the did so.
“We do not have access to the girls because we can’t go to the places they stay and very few of them know that they can come to the mission and get help,” she said.
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She was forced to be a sex worker in Singapore for two years after being told she was to be assigned to work as a cleaning lady in the Southeast Asian city. For “Tanya” moving to Singapore was biggest moment of her life.
Upon arrival, however, that all changed. And it changed quickly.
“I got to Singapore and was picked up by a man who said he would take me to my new flat,” she began. “I was the happiest girl in the world,” the 21-year-old told
Her life was turned upside the next day, when she was again picked up by the man, but instead of being driven to see her new boss, she was taken to a unmarked building, told to strip and was forced to take a shower and be “groomed.”
“It was the scariest moment of my life. They just told me to take off all my clothes and then two women washed me and shaved all the hair off me as if I was just a thing that they could use.
“Then I was sent to a room and two men came in and forced themselves on me. They raped me over and over again. I was in tears the whole time. But I couldn’t do anything, because they said they would kill me if I tried to leave,” she continued.
While sex work is legal in Singapore, there is a growing trend of East African women, and young girls, being co-opted into arriving to the country, where they are then forced into sex work against their will.
Tanya’s friend, “Susan” from Ethiopia, said she had a similar experience, arriving and being taken to another building, where she was put to work as a sex worker.
For both girls, they struggled to survive, being forced to have sex with as many as 8 clients a day.
“I still don’t even know how this happened,” Susan told “It was the worst time of my life and now I just feel so scared all the time,” she added.
The two women say they know other African girls who had been told they were coming to Singapore to work as domestic workers, but are then taken to buildings where they are forced to work, as they call it “sex slavery.”
“We didn’t get paid and we didn’t have any clothes. They would take us to a shower after every client and force us to wash. Our cries and tears did nothing. It was horrible,” Tanya, from Uganda, added.
Both women are now free of their situation, running away, naked late in the night.
“I grabbed my sheet and just pushed my way past a client and sprinted to the street. I found a couple who helped me and finally it is over, but I can’t imagine what other girls have to deal with,” she said.
Both women have become close, living together in the city and dealing with their physical and psychological trauma together. They say that without each other, the both would have killed themselves.
“I just wanted to die. Every night I have horrible dreams about what I have been put through,” added Susan.
While the Singapore government and the police have told they are cracking down on sex slavery in the city, it is often difficult to track such incidents and with clients not willing to say anything, finding illegal facilities is difficult.
Human rights organizations say hundreds of African women are forced into sex work across Southeast Asia as the “appetite” for African women appears to be growing.
For Tanya and Susan, they hope they can assist other women who have been put through similar situations.
“We want to work with police and women’s organizations to put an end to this horrific experience that we and other women have been forced into so we are staying in Singapore to help,” said Tanya.
** Mariam Yuan contributed to this report in Singapore.

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