Thursday, March 20, 2014
Uganda’s Sex Industry and its Socio-economic Consequences
By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
Sex is ordinarily a good thing. It is important for the survival and longevity of the human race and other species. In Uganda, a team of expert scientists, the Ministerial Scientific Committee on Homosexuality in the Ministry of Health (hereinafter, the Committee), in its report of 10th February 2014, entitled, Scientific Statement from the Ministry of Health on Homosexuality, stated on page 2 that, ‘Sex is a natural phenomenon in all life forms and is the basis for the reproduction and continuum of life ...’ and added, on page 6, that ‘... the essence of sex ... is that of procreation ....’ To achieve this objective, societies world over institutionalized sex under the aegis of family settings. That is why looking at family set-ups in general, especially, in the animal kingdom, it appears that the standard definition and by extension, main purpose, of a family is that it is a group by a sex relationship, which is sufficiently precise and enduring to provide for the procreation and upbringing of young ones.
The importance of sex cannot be over emphasized. First, health-wise, it has an amazing recuperative effect; a healing and relaxation sensation; that cuts across the both mental and physical spectrum of the human body, which guarantees a constant flow of energy. This is why some sportsmen and women have a practice of having sex at least an hour before their game. It is said that this boosts bodily stamina and mental concentration. Sex with the right person, at the right time, in the right place and for the right reasons, is truly the best and sweetest thing that the world can ever offer.
Second, in religious terms, sex is a widely acknowledged form of worship; at least in all the major religions of the world. Christianity and Judaism believe that man and woman were created to multiply and fill the world. Hence, in the words of scripture – Genesis 2:24 – ‘That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one,’ in fulfilling this noble mission. In Islam, sex should be based on love for each other and fearing God. The Holy Koran, 30:21, provides that, ‘Allah created men and women so that they can provide company to one another, love and live in peace and tranquillity to the commandment of Allah and the direction of His messenger.’ Further, in the Hadith, Prophet Mohammed said that, ‘When man has married, he has completed one-half of his faith.’ To Moslems, sex is a means of emotional and sexual gratification, procreation, among others.
Unfortunately however, as will be demonstrated shortly, sex in Uganda has been adulterated. This adulteration seems to have spared no one – not even those claiming religious piety, including the self-acclaimed “born agains,” since stories of church ministers sodomizing or committing adultery with their followers are rife. None is righteous: so it is written in the Bible, in Romans 3:10. Sex in Uganda has been institutionalized into two categories: legal and illegal sex. The former is legitimate and socially acceptable, like marriage; the latter is illegitimate and generally frowned upon, like prostitution and homosexuality. Nowadays, both are big-time money making ventures for many people, who have steadily reduced sex to a tradable commodity and gladly availed it in the marketplace! Now there is a phenomenal sex industry in Uganda, which is seriously booming.
Marriage, the only socially acceptable avenue for enjoying sex in Uganda, has been so commercialized and cheapened that it is now a complete showbiz industry of sorts. Most marriages go through a two tier process: the traditional or customary stage (otherwise known as introduction) where a girl formally introduces her lover to her parents and relatives and then the religious stage, where couples solemnize their marriage in a religious place of worship like a church or a mosque. People spend ridiculously huge amounts of money at both stages, simply for each of the couple to show the rest of the world who he or she will formally sleep with, engaging in the business of making children! Many times, the couple, together with their families, borrow money or sell valuable properties to organize fancy marriage ceremonies, as if in competition for the slot of most prominent ceremony in the neighbourhood. Added to this is the growing trend of people marrying for the sake of prospective financial rewards and benefits, instead of love and emotional attachment. Consequently, marriage ceremonies today have become exorbitantly expensive, rendering socially acceptable sex, a commodity that is beyond the reach of many people especially, young men and women.
The over pricing of sex has culminated into the rise of and engagement in apparent social immorality and obscenity. For instance, there is a sharp rise in cross-generational sex, whereby young boys and girls engage in illicit sexual relationships with men and women, who are way far older than they are; in many cases fit enough to be their parents. This is the so-called ‘sugar mummy’ or ‘sugar daddy’ relationships phenomenon. It is so shameful that upon close scrutiny, one finds that those involved in these relationships are simply disguisable, polished and sophisticated prostitutes. Then, I have argued before (here http://bbbakampa.blogspot.com/2009/07/economic-analysis-of-rise-of.html) that even the rise of such sexual perversions like homosexuality are closely linked to the unreasonably expensive character of heterosexual sex i.e. sex between men and women. Briefly, this is because people of the same sex can easily communicate with each other the challenges and problems they face, including sexual and emotional deprivation and starvation. Having this kind of discussion is near to impossible between members of the opposite sex because of the effects and considerations of such social forces as patriarchy that looks at the female partner as being dependent or at least entitled to dependency on her male partner. But the unduly expensive character of formalized sex in Uganda today, negates the capacity of males to conform to the dictates of patriarchy to provide for their female counterparts, ultimately driving men to engage in illicit sexual relations with their fellow men, hence the rise of homosexuality. In today’s rapidly changing world, thanks to the influence of socio-political forces like women emancipation, this goes for women too.
Evidently therefore, Ugandans have taken the sex institution a notch higher by sadly transforming it into a massive commercial enterprise of sorts. This should be bad enough on its own, yet there is more to it than meets the eye. The commercial adulteration of sex has far reaching social implications on our society. How? You may ask. This nonsensical practice has two main social effects on our body fabric: first, the compromise and break up of social bonds of harmony and integration; and second, the emergence of an irresponsible citizenry.
Concerning the compromise and break up of social harmony and integration; every society needs firm social balances in order to function properly, for the betterment of its members. Healthy sexual relations are core to achieving social balance because the sex institution is a very powerful forum that keeps people intact and glued together. The commercialization of sex is rapidly undermining these social necessities. For instance, many young people cannot freely marry partners of their choice anymore and at their due time because they cannot afford the unnecessarily huge bills for flashy introduction ceremonies, followed by mega wedding parties – the showbiz marks that nowadays characterize and define marriages. Then, there is a surge in levels of crimes of passion, like murder, maiming and acid burns, that are committed under excessive emotion, arising from sexual jealousy.
Concerning the emergence of irresponsible citizenry; many people are overly sex oriented. Old men and women (but usually men), for instance, are abandoning their spouses and children and are instead busy running after young boys and girls especially, in universities. They fail to build strong and stable family relationships that Napoleon Hill, writing in his book, Think and Grow Rich (1937), says are vital for personal planning and economic development. Meanwhile, the young boys and girls (but usually girls) have simply become simpletons, only interested in the pleasures of life, courtesy of their sugar daddies and mummies, instead of strategizing and working hard for a better future. So, whereas sex should facilitate and motivate wealth creation, in Uganda, it merely promotes wealth consumption. That is exactly why, as explained earlier, many of our people are more readily available and willing to fully participate to introductions and weddings than contribute to more viable ventures like investing and starting up businesses to generate more money or better still, get involved in more genuine causes for social emancipation and overall development. The reason is plain and simple: it is all about rampant consumerism that has bedevilled the current monetary-market system in the global economy. Unlike investments and social causes like charity, there is ready food to eat in introduction and wedding ceremonies. This is a tragic situation indeed and its socio-economic consequences are severe.