UGANDA: Trafficking Women to Asia Increasing says IOM

KAMPALA, February 17, 2012 (CISA) -International Organization for Migration (IOM) Uganda is concerned about an increase in the number of Ugandan women trafficked abroad, particularly to Asia. Victims of trafficking whom IOM has helped to return to Uganda have reported being subjected to sexual slavery, rape and torture.
In the past four months alone, thirteen victims of trafficking were rescued in Malaysia and referred to IOM for assistance to return home. Ugandan sources suggest that there may be as many as 600 trafficked Ugandan women currently in Malaysia, with between 10 and 20 more arriving each week.
“Prevention offers much more positive outcomes if all stakeholders, government and civil society take timely action against human trafficking” says IOM Uganda’s Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “IOM has been working with the government to help victims of trafficking to rebuild their lives, but once the damage is done, it is hard to reverse,” he adds.
Predominantly young women have been trafficked either by individuals or employment agencies, typically lured by promises of lucrative business, job, or study opportunities abroad.
“Someone promised me a job in a Ugandan restaurant in Malaysia. I was taken to Bangkok for two days and then on to Malaysia. The place I was taken to in Bangkok was very terrible; it was like a mad house. There were about 20 Ugandan girls, very young girls of 20, 19, and 17 years old. They were taking weed, cocaine, smoking pipe in the corridors. I managed to keep my cool because I thought if I would react badly I would be put in trouble or beaten or even killed,” said a 22 year old victim who recently returned home with IOM’s help.
“When I reached Malaysia, I was taken to this Ugandan woman who was supposed to give me a job. This lady told me: ‘Shower, then eat, then sleep. You start work tomorrow.’ The next day she told me there was no restaurant work and I had to prostitute myself. Every day I should give her US$ 200. She showed me a metallic heater and said if I did not do everything she said, she would hurt me with it.”
 In 2009, the Government of Uganda enacted the Uganda Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act. However, the growing number of trafficked persons over the last two years calls for coordinated efforts in properly understanding the problem, while investigating and prosecuting human traffickers.
IOM recently received support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to develop a coordinated response to human trafficking in Uganda.
Globally IOM is the leading agency in counter trafficking and prevention of human slavery. Since 1994 the organisation has implemented almost 500 projects in 85 countries, and provided assistance to approximately 15,000 trafficked persons.
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