The girls, aged between 14 and 17, say they were abandoned at Link Bus Park in Fort Portal town with no money or food. They claim a woman only identified as Aunty Joy of Namungoona offered them good jobs as house girls in Kampala. She was supposed to meet them in Fort Portal to pay for the rest of their journey, but never showed up.
The girls – Eve Basemera, Scovia Kunihira, Hope Annette Mbambu and Peace Kemigisa – are sketchy on the details of how and where they met Aunty Joy. They come from different areas in Kasese and Bundibugyo and one of them was a student at Eagles Nest Secondary School in Kampala before she opted to drop out for the job.
Joseph Ssentamu Bitali, the criminal investigations officer at Fort Portal police station, did not eat or drink anything for four days. On the fifth day, they were taken to the police station for their protection.
Bitali urgently appeals for the parents of the girls to pick them up as soon as possible.
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Sources at Fort Portal police station say the girls could be victims of an ever-widening human trafficking net. They say teenage girls are promised good jobs in Kampala, but on arrival in the city are forced into prostitution.
Three years ago, the United States government placed Uganda on its watch list of countries troubled by human trafficking. It said Uganda did not meet minimum standards of combating human trafficking.
Since then, the Uganda Women's Parliamentary Association sponsored a bill to combat human trafficking. It was passed by Parliament last year, but has not yet been operationalized.
The 2009 U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report says Uganda still remains a source and destination for men, women and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. It says Ugandan children are trafficked within the country to serve in the areas of fishing, agriculture, domestic service and commercial sexual exploitation.