Senate raises concern over male sex workers

Senators have castigated women who lure young men into commercial sex.

Senators have castigated women who lure young men into commercial sex.

The concerns were raised on Tuesday as the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye, presented the state of sexual violence against women and girls in the country to the Senate.

Lawmakers pointed out that the victims of gender abuse are not only girls and women but also young men.

Although there are no statistics to show the magnitude of the problem, the young men involved in this practice are locally known as ‘Abapfubuzi’.

During Tuesday’s session, senators seemed to have some knowledge of their existence, how they operate and their locations.

“We need to boldly tackle cases of sexual violence. We are not only dealing with issues affecting girls and women, we have a bigger problem of ‘Abapfubuzi,” Senate vice-president Jeanne d’Arc Gakuba said.

She added; “These young men and boys who reportedly hang around Rubangura building in the city centre are usually picked up by well-off and elite women who are very much aware that what they are doing is illegal.”

Prof. Chrysologue Karangwa suggested that a study be carried out to ascertain how serious the issue of Abapfubuzi is.

“These boys are lured into the practice by rich women who are either divorced or widowed,” said Senator Karangwa.

Minister Busingye concurred with the Senators saying: “If this issue has reached a level of being a subject of debate in the Senate, then it is indeed a concern that needs to be addressed urgently.” 

In a related development, the minister told Senators that reported cases of gender-based violence are increasing  despite several laws that are in place to curb the vice.

Police figures show that about 14,000 cases of defilement were reported between 2006 and 2013 while rape cases stand at an average of 300 annually. He said that one of the reasons why defilement cases are on the rise is because children spend more time with house helps than their parents.

“These house-helps end up sexually abusing children. A child who is raised by divorced or separated parents also risks being violated,” he said.

Zaina Nyiramatama, the Executive Secretary of the National Children Council, told the Senate that her office is in the process of conducting an extensive study on gender-based violence, including sexual violence against boys.