The experience of Sylvia Nakintu is as harrowing as it is heart-breaking. Lured by a false promise of ‘greener pastures’ abroad, the young Ugandan ended up a merciless victim of human trafficking, chained to a bed in a dingy, dirty Indian room and forced to sexually satisfy up to 30 men in a single night.
Nakintu, a Matugga indigene, explained that an impoverished background led her to survive by hawking water as a young girl before she becoming an apprentice hairstylist.
“When I lost my dad, his family claimed my mum was responsible for his death,” the 21-year-old tearfully said, sharing her experiences on a popular Radio Talk Program
“They left us with her and ever since then, she has been the one catering for us”
Aged 19, a middle-aged lady walked into the shop where she was styling and approached her with an unusual proposal.
“She came to me and said there was a country she was staying in and if she took me to that country, I would make money and would be able to cater to my family.”
“My happiness knew no bounds,”she recalled, her judgment veiled by the blind promise of greener pastures. “I said, ‘Finally, an angel has come’. Unknown to me, she was a devil in human’s clothing.
”Just one week later, without even informing her mum or siblings, Nakintu was in a vehicle with the mysterious lady en route to Nairobi.“
She said when we got to Nairobi, we boarded a car through Sudan, Chad and Finally Libya where I would start work as a stylist”.
The long journey by road through the infamous Sahara Desert was nothing short of hellish.
“We were seeing dead bodies strewn on the ground,” she reminisced, shuddering at the grisly recollection.
“Even the vehicle that was following us directly passed on top of a buried bomb; the vehicle just exploded and everybody there died.”
Nakintu witnessed scenes far too horrific to repeat as masked men attacked a vehicle close to hers, beating the occupants to a stupor and raping the women inside.
Finally they boarded a plane to India’s second-largest city Bombay, Nakintu was taken by the woman to a duplex. The first glimpse of her new home was a shock to behold.
“I met five girls who claimed to have come from Nigerian who were half-naked,” she stated.
Smiling wryly at her bewildered confusion, the woman said she would ‘explain everything tomorrow’.
“The following morning, when I woke up, she brought some underwear for me and said these were the clothes I must use to work,” the young Ugandan narrated.
As realization dawned to what she had unknowingly entangled herself in, Nakintu bluntly refused.
“That afternoon, people said they wanted to meet me because I was new but I protested,”she continued.
“So, the woman went outside and brought a cane. They really beat me up until I was very weak. She then took me to one of the rooms and tied me down there. She tied my hands to the back of my head and tied my legs separately so that they were open. That very day, 30 men used me in the room where I was chained”
”Shackled as a sex slave alone in the dark, dirty room save for the ravenous men who forced themselves on her, Nakintu’s willpower slowly began wilting.
“After two weeks, the other girls came to me and said that if I didn’t accept to do this, she would tie me down for two years. When I knew the whole thing was like that, I just accepted”
Informed that she would have to repay a total of $9,000 (32Million Ugandan Shilling) to the devilish lady to ‘cover the costs’ of her travel to India, the young Ugandan prostituted for almost one year before finally ‘earning’ enough to ‘buy’ her freedom.
However, as hope finally beckoned that she could leave such a hellish lifestyle, fate struck another venomous blow.
“Immediately I planned to leave the place, I started falling sick – seriously sick”
Nearly one year of sleeping with multiple men on a nightly basis had taken its toll on her young body.
“To my greatest surprise, my womb fell. I had to be taken to the hospital where they operated on me to remove it”
Feeble and practically penniless, Nakintu now faced the ominous challenge of making enough money for the journey back to Uganda. Her options were limited.
“At the end of the day, I had no choice. I still had to resort to the same thing to come back to Uganda,” she admitted.
Eventually ending up in another brothel, she began saving up for the return leg of her nightmare journey.
After encountering a fellow Ugandan prostitute who had a similar story as a victim of deception and exploitation, the duo struck a strong friendship and resolved to make the journey together.
At this point, they made what turned out to be a life-changing discovery. After consistent saving, the duo made enough man which enabled them to run away fro the brothels and come back to Uganda.