The influence of gender on child trafficking for labor exploitation in urban centers of Kampala City: A case study of child survivors
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The purpose of this study was to assess the gendered nature of trafficking of boys and girls from rural areas of Uganda to Kampala for the purpose of labor exploitation. The study was guided by the following specific objectives: To investigate how boys and girls are trafficked to Kampala, To examine the factors that cause trafficking of girls compared to boys from rural areas of Uganda to Kampala, To analyze the experiences of girls compared to boys when they are trafficked, to examine how girls and boys respond to their situations when trafficked and To assess the activities girls engage in compared to boys when trafficked. The study utilised the Feminist Political Economy Approach theory by Interpares, (2004) and Beneria, (2003) which views the neo-liberal concept of an individual motivated solely by self-interest excludes behaviours motivated by love, compassion, duty, altruism, the pursuit of art and beauty, equality and reciprocity in relationships, and care. However, the Feminist Political Economy Approach theory falls short for it focuses on women as the only victims and survivors of trafficking and fails to recognize that male perpetrators and male survivors do exist. So, this study additionally has three main important elements firstly recognizing a focus on gender as a critical central analytic lens in a feminist political economic analysis, power dynamics and division of labor. A qualitative research design was used with qualitative approaches because of the uniqueness of respondents. Data was collected from a purposively selected sample of boys and girls who were trafficked. In-depth and key informant interviews were used in collecting data. The study findings revealed that Traffickers usually recruit the vulnerable with promises of better conditions elsewhere. Traffickers approach the families in rural communities with promises of education, better living conditions, and lucrative work. Sometimes drug or abduct victims and at times befriend and deceive them most commonly luring them with fake jobs and prospects for better lives and in most cases people with low socioeconomic status are easy targets hence they fall into the trafficking trap. Findings additionally indicated that, abuse of a position of a child’s vulnerability closely linked with low socioeconomic status were other factors contributing to easy initiation of children into trafficking more so those living with relatives or people not related to them at all. Both boys and girls mentioned that they lived in families mired by conflicts and subsequently their abuse though dynamics were different The findings also indicated that in most of the single mother families, the head of household who is the mother bears a huge burden of meeting all family needs yet gender inequalities still exist in the market place further affecting her socioeconomic status. Some children agreed to go to town after being convinced by friends and close relatives to do so. The study recommends the need to make primary education more enjoyable, effective and affordable to all. This could help children not to become victims of trafficking in the name of being promised education by traffickers or dropping out and easily falling victims. The findings are a wakeup call to all the stakeholders that child trafficking is real and continue to flourish. The unfortunate victims are robbed of their health and right to lead dignified lives. Therefore, children endured these hardships in the beginning at the various places of abode, their dreams started to fade away after realizing that the promises made to them of an education and better life were most likely never to be fulfilled. This then calls for concerted efforts by all Ugandans in addressing child trafficking. It is hoped that the findings of this study will be used by the different actors to reduce and eliminate child trafficking for labor exploitation in urban centers.