Life-saving post-abortion care for sex workers

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My name is Masitula. I’m a single mother of two sons and I'm a sex worker. I live in Nansana Wakiso district near Kampala. Every evening I travel 10 kilometres to Natete, a Kampala city suburb where I am a sex worker.

I got pregnant after a client refused to wear a condom. I attempted to abort using some unsafe abortion practices but I was unsuccessful. I now have a two-month old baby whose father I do not know.

My eldest son is seven years old, he is in primary school. 

I became a sex worker after a friend advised me that this job can provide me with some income. My husband left me six years ago for another woman when my eldest was only one. He doesn’t give me a single penny for taking care of his son. I used to be a teacher but the income is little. So I have been a sex worker for six years.

There are many problems for sex workers here. One is with the police. The police catch us, take our money and sometimes force us to have sex with them.

The other problem is that those men who buy us, some of them don’t pay. They just use us and they don’t pay. It affects me because when you go to work and you don’t get any income, it is bad. They use you for free. And I don’t have anyone to take care of my kids. So sometimes I don’t work I just stay at home because no one will take care of my kids.

I live only with my children. I don’t have anyone else. Sometimes I have to take my baby with me and if I get a job, then I give him to my friend until I finish. It is difficult with such a little baby but there is nothing I can do.

I don’t even know the father. He just forced me. He said that he will not put on a condom. So that is why I tried to abort with herbs, but it didn't work. They caused me a lot of pain and I was about to die.

I didn’t go for a safe abortion because with this government of ours, it is not easy to go to the hospital and tell them that I want to abort. You just go and tell them that you want medicine for ulcers.

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But Lady Mermaid's Bureau, supported by SAAF, has helped me and other sex workers. When you call them they come immediately. When you are sick they take you to hospital. In everything they are good. When I get some problems, I just go and tell them. They do what other people can’t do.

It has changed my life because I now have a friend. They are my friends. I take them as part of my family because I don’t have any family. My father died, I don’t have a mother and my husband left me. They are my family now.

Abortion should be legal and also sex work because it is a job. We don’t want to do it. It's just because we don’t have anything else and that is why we do it. So the government should also take us as human beings. No one treats us as human beings.

And to prevent women from having unsafe abortions the government should provide people with jobs and factories to work in. So that they don't have to do sex work because it affects these girls, and some of them are like me. We don’t have jobs, you go and look for a job, you don’t find the job and you just find yourself doing this sex working job instead.