Sex Exploitation Rocks Ugandan Mine

 

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Exploitation, sex and drinking, sums up the way of life for hundreds of artisanal miners, in eastern Uganda’s remote Karamoja region.
The artisanal miners who ply their trade in Nakirokony Mine in Moroto district spend time, from morning to evening breaking huge stones, using rudimentary tools and at the end of the day are paid in kind with either sex or potent gin.
The miners struggle all day long, to break stones that can fill a twenty tone lorry, and are later rewarded with sex or potent gin.
“Yes sometimes these women (fellow miners) offer sex to us in order to help them break the stones but that’s on mutual grounds and not everybody is paid by having sex with them” explains Teku Ogelan a 35-year-old artisanal miner from Lojeteli village.
Teku who at just 35 looks like a 60 year-old, says that some women who are unable to break stones, usually approach men and ask them to help them. He says those who accept are then paid, either in form of sex or by giving them, jerricans of the potent gin.
No Condom Use
“That thing we hear is used is by men who play sex with foreigners but for us here we don’t use them because we know these women and even AIDS is not prevalent here” explains one of the miners who admits to have been paid with sex for his labor. He says the women who ply their trade in the mine look healthy and that gives him confidence that they are not sick.
Other forms of exploitation
“We work in groups of about five each and it takes us three to five days to break stones that can fill a twenty tone lorry and for this we are paid only 130,000 shillings (approximately 38 Euros) explains 25-year-old Lokwangan a resident of Yerobos village.
The stones are sold to Tororo Cement Industries by middlemen. The middlemen buy 20 tones of stones at about 38 Euros and sell it to Tororo Cement Industry at a cost of 600 Euros.

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The business of buying the stones is in the hands of private transporters. One of the companies involved in buying and transporting limestone from Moroto to Tororo Cement, Jax and Lenis is owned by a powerful Ugandan cabinet Minister.
No protective gear
“Just look at my hands and see all these wounds that I have sustained as a result of working here and by the way I have nothing to show for the ten years I have worked here” explains a teary 28-year-old Lolem whose body bears several wounds, sustained from breaking stones. Lolem says most often they are paid with the potent gin and as a result they work on an empty stomach.
Tororo Cement Speaks out
“I onetime single handedly tried to fight this vice of paying miners with alcohol but faced stiff resistance from the miners and the local leadership” explains Peter Karanja the Process Manager of Tororo Cement Industry. He says most of the artisanal miners enter into a private arrangement with the transporters to exchange twenty tones of limestone with jericans of a local potent gin.
Karanja says Tororo Cement cannot help in fixing the prices because they only pay for the limestone that is delivered to the factory in Tororo some 250 kilometers away.
Sophie Betty Nangiro of Karamoja Miners Association says they have highlighted the plight of the miners to the Government but little has been done.
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