As a single mother of seven, Ajeng*, 35, was forced into sex work to support her children when she could find no other job.
In 2006, Ajeng discovered she was living with HIV and as a result her marriage broke down. Fortunately her children are healthy and living without the virus.
In 2009, Ajeng, who is originally from Uganda, moved to Juba city, South Sudan in search of work as she could not find any in Uganda.
She was with her friend Arche*, 37, a single mother of five. The pair related how, since their husbands left them, they are in charge of their family’s basic needs but life became so hard that they could not afford to provide for their children’s school fees, medication, food, shelter and other personal needs.
Becoming a sex worker
In Juba, they did everything to look for a formal job but couldn’t find anything and took up sex work following their friends’ advice. They now both work in the old Custom market and are able to support their families’ basic needs.
Arche is a widow who found out her HIV status before her first child was born; but her children are HIV negative.
In 2010, they joined the sex workers’ group, they were introduced to the rest of the members and given guidance on the correct and consistent use of condoms before they started work. Arche and Ajeng explain that they face many challenges from their clients who are both civilians and army staff. Some clients reject the use of condoms during sex even though the pair disclose their HIV status.