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She says she eventually escaped but had to become a prostitute to support herself and her siblings. I lived with rebels for one year and six months, and then I escaped. When she returned to Gulu, a district in northern Uganda, she learned she was an orphan. Her father had died a few months after he divorced her mother when Acen was 8, and her mother died during her captivity.
She joined her six siblings, who were living with her maternal aunt in Coope camp, a camp in Gulu for Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, who were moved from their homes to temporary camps during the war. Following peace talks that began in , the government decided that all people should go back to their villages. Sometimes there was no work to do. We were just idle without anything to eat or to do.
This became worse after [the] government told us to go back to our villages. Acen says that desperation forced her to become a prostitute in order to provide for her siblings since her aunt was also unemployed.
I decided to accept to have sex with men in exchange for money. She carried out this trade in Coope Center, formerly the camp she and her family had stayed in that became a small trading center after people went back to their villages. But she says she preferred the men from Gulu, a town about 15 kilometers from Coope Center, because they could offer more money there. Acen is not alone. The war forced many girls, especially those who were abducted by LRA fighters, to become prostitutes to support themselves and their families.
Other businesses also benefit from the commercial sex trade here as owners and managers say the girls attract customers. The government and nongovernmental organizations, NGOs, have been working to rehabilitate the girls and teach them new skills to support themselves, but some return to the trade even after police arrest them. The war in northern Uganda began after current President Yoweri Museveni came to power in During the war, more than 1.