Sex trafficking in Uganda is a growing crisis that has gained international attention. In 2011, the number of children being trafficked for sex reached 18,000. Some of these children are as young as 8 years old, with the average age reaching only 13. Many children are trafficked from small villages to the capital city, Kampala, under false pretense of a job or education. Others are forced into slavery by family members or economic hardships. Willow International partners with local agencies, government, police, and community leaders to rescue domestic trafficking victims.
In addition, thousands of Ugandans are trafficked across international borders to countries including China, Thailand, Malaysia, Kuwait, Oman, and more. Young men and women are recruited for work as hairdressers, hotel staff, and teachers; only to be forced into sexual slavery upon arrival to the foreign country. Our organization partners with nonprofit organizations around the world who work tirelessly to rescue these victims. Once rescued, our partners connect with the Willow team who provide case management services and welcome them home when they arrive at the airport.
Following rescue, survivors are invited to participate in aftercare programs. The aftercare process for survivors of human trafficking is complex & unique for each individual. Each survivor works directly with a case manager who provides them with an individualized aftercare plan catered to their specific needs. After an intake evaluation, case managers are able to recommend services via our residential aftercare home or external case management services. Each service plan addresses and provides programs that address the beneficiary’s safety, health, education/economic development, psychosocial support, and spiritual support. The program duration ranges depending on the severity’s of the beneficiary’s victimization and the stability/safety of their family. Our goal is to empower each survivor to heal from trauma, be free from re-victimization, be reconciled with family relationships, and eventually resettle with relatives who will provide ongoing support.
Willow International is committed to ensuring a safer world for women and children in Uganda. Gender inequality and discriminatory laws and cultures trap women in poverty and leave them vulnerable to violence and commercial sexual exploitation. Our family and community reconciliation programs heavily focus on spreading awareness, educating, and promoting women and children’s rights. This year, through partnerships with leading organizations, our team will begin training government, police, and immigration officials and will broaden nationwide awareness efforts. We are committed to seeking out collaborations that enable us to leverage our core competencies to contribute to efforts to prevent trafficking and care for survivors.