Pregnant at 13, after less than a year of forced sex work.

Plan International is helping underage sex workers in Uganda turn their lives around.

An estimated 54,000 girls, who are under 18, are currently being forced into sex work in Uganda, Plan International Australia‘s Deputy CEO Susanne Legena said.

“Lured by false promises of education and good jobs, many girls are trafficked to Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. Others are escaping poverty, sexual abuse or child marriage,” Ms Legena said.

The work gets them as little as $3 per client, with higher rates for not using a condom.

Many of the young sex workers fall pregnant and babies are born to unknown fathers.

Plan International has now set up nurseries for these children, with 1000 children currently benefiting from childcare.

In addition, their mothers and other young women caught up in the sex industry can enrol in a free year-long course that includes knitting, hairdressing, baking, electronics and business management.

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Former sex worker, Hawa*, has now opened her own beauty salon after completing the skills training course. Plan International have filmed her story.

Plan International’s film tells Hawa’s story. (Post continues after video).

The project coined Partnership for Empowerment of Vulnerable girls and Women in Urban Slums (PEVUS), has enabled Hawa to become a “family breadwinner”. She now takes care of her siblings and parents and aims to grow her business to train other girls.

“Plan International is helping girls out of the sex industry by giving them skills to become independent and to follow their own path. Our PEVUS project is currently helping sex workers aged 13 to 24-years-old in the Kawempe slum in Kampala,” Ms Legena said.

So far more than 200 girls have taken the year-long course with three-quarters finding new employment and one in four have been able to start their own business.

“This program gives girls an opportunity to exercise their right to independence and financial security. Through this program, they make friends, feel safe and have fun. We aim to train 900 girls over three years.”

To support programs that protect girls from human rights abuses, please go to www.becauseiamagirl.com.au.  To find out more about the program, visit hereThe complete series of videos will be published on Plan International’s Facebook page

*Names have been changed.

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