RUBAVU - More than 500 former commercial sex workers in Rubavu District have turned their backs on the streets to form an association to start other businesses.
Ihorere Rwanda Association has 1120 members, 514 of them former sex workers. The association teamed up with Family Health International to sensitise the women to abandon the sex trade.
“HIV is mostly transmitted through sexual intercourse especially through prostitution. Family Health International tries to reduce this by encouraging sex workers to abandon their trade and voluntarily test for HIV,” Claude Blaise Nkurunziza, the coordinator of Family Health in Rubavu said.
Nkurunziza explained that they induce the sex workers to leave the streets by promising them soft loans form Ihorere Rwanda.
Afisa Uwamahoro, worked in the sex industry for two years after losing her parents.
She appreciates the initiative by Ihorere Rwanda and Family Health International which has seen her become self reliant.
“I have been provided with shelter, medical insurance paid for me and my children. I’m now doing business,” said Uwamahoro.
She is optimistic her two children will get school fees from the partnership between Ihorere Rwanda and Family Health International.
“I was given a soft loan and set up an Irish potatoes and charcoal business,” said Uwamahoro.
She recalls that while she worked as a sex worker, she would earn between Rwf1000 to Rwf3000 per night.
But she would spend all of it on alcohol since she had no business knowledge.
Now life is better than before because she can afford a place to sleep and take care of her children needs.
Esperance Ingabire, who left her family in Karongi to ply into the sex industry, started a tomato and charcoal business ever since she quit the street.
She cautions teenagers against prostitution, saying its risky business.
“Although a majority have quit, some stealthily still go back to the street but when they are caught they are punished,” said Ingabire.