Monday, August 18, 2003

Uganda: poverty makes abstinence difficult

This is one of those "well, duh" stories ... but I suppose some people have never really considered this issue.
Sex starts early here for a variety of reasons. There is the sexual curiosity that stirs in young people everywhere. Marriage for young girls is common as well, with girls dropping out of school, often to become an older man's second or third wife. Sex also presents an opportunity to make money, and young women find few jobs available. Poverty, it seems, can weaken even those with the most resolve.

... A dedicated student who dreams of going to college, Lillian struggles to come up with the fees that all secondary school students in Uganda are required to pay. For Lillian — who, like some of her other classmates agreed to be interviewed on the condition that her last name not be used — the tuition comes to about $30 a month. Recently, some of the cousins with whom she has been living since her uncle's death have begun pressuring her to raise money by selling herself.

... At first she rejected outright suggestions by her cousins that she find a man to solve her financial woes. But the more she talked about it, the more her resolve seemed to weaken.

... She would use a condom and hope that the man would be kind. "If it was a single man who wasn't married, if he had good character, maybe I'd consider it," she said. "It would be for my future."