Underage prostitutes in Kamenge commune

Girls of 12-18 years old are engaged in prostitution at Kamenge commune. The Child protection and Morality Police are committed to curb the practice.By J.Berchmans Siboniyo

 One of the prostitutes at Twinyoni quarter ©Iwacu

One of the prostitutes at Twinyoni quarter ©Iwacu

It is 8 PM at 11th avenue, near a pub known as Kwa Ndaba in Twinyoni quarter, Kamenge commune. Younggirls are standing by the pub, sucking sweets, moving in a sexy way, with an attractive look, some even smile. Why? They are waiting for potential customers.

Nana, an 18 year old prostitutewho wants to remain anonymous, says: “It is life. I survive because of this.” The young girls rent small rooms to facilitate the job. Nana explains how she began withprostitution: “I came to Bujumbura city to search for a job. I was hired as a baby sitter. But then I fell in love with a boy, we made love and I got pregnant. When they learned of the pregnancy, my employers chased me. The boy didn’t consent to marry me. So, this was the last solution. I gave birth to a baby girl.”

She says that she can receive ten partners a day depending on how tired she feels and how much they pay. “It is hard, but I have no other choice. I am earning money so I cango back home and start a business there. I am planning to open a small shop. I hope this will go well”.She says that she is one of many girls doing the same job in the area, some as young as twelve.

When asked why clients prefer the underage prostitutes, one man says: “Looking at the face you may think they are still children, but they are not. They even know morethings than adults.”
The young girls are well-known in the area. When one of them gets a client, the people around the place applaudnoisily. “Eeehuraronsesha!”(Eeeh congratulation!). She then takes him to the small room she rents for around BIF20000.The client pays BIF 5000. “But I can reduce the price if the man really needs me and doesn’t have enough money”, Nana adds.
She also indicates that she and other prostitutes are cautious about AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STI). “No one can have sex with me without a condom. I don’t want another pregnancy when I am living this kind of life. I bore one child and I know what it costs. When you are pregnant you cannot continue this job. How can you keep on living? I also want to live longer. If I catch anSTI it is the end of myjob.”

Christine Nsabimana, the Responsible for the Child Protection and Morality Police, indicates that they are aware of the issue and they are committed to curb the practice. She blames local residents of complicity. She says that when policemen are patrolling the local people hide or warn theprostitutes. Ms. Nsabimana asks the population to change their mentality. “Police are not there for bad things. They are there to secure their environment. People should see that this practice is a source of insecurity in their area. Theminors should understand that it is for their own good that the police discourage them to continue the practice. They will notlive long in such a life”, she adds. She also states that there is no law prohibiting prostitution. “All we can do is to punish adults who lie down with minors.”
Ms. Nsabimana mentions that there is a project of sensitizing people against the prostitution of minors, incollaboration with the police and the local administration. “We got sponsors for the project. It will soon be implemented.”