Men of the Night Uganda (MoNU), last week, held its first annual general meeting; they introduced their programmes and activities to stakeholders and also elected a board of directors. MoNu is a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of sex workers and also offers health service referrals to its members.
The meeting saw Hajjara Batte, Bob Bwana, Elvis Ethan, Michael Clerk and Watiti Godfrey elected to the BoD. They also introduced their two main funders i.e. Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa and East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative, whose support6 has made the implementation of programs a reality.
“I am very happy that we have finally had our first annual general meeting. We are excited to be introducing our programmes to our stakeholders as well as our implementation plans,” the Kakande Cameron the Director of MoNU said in his opening remarks.
In their four years of existence, MoNU has had several activities to further their mission. They introduced Men Chat Monday (MCM)- a round table discussion for its members where they get as candid as necessary about the issues that affect them in their trade. These dialogues are held three months in the different locations within the five districts that MoNU serves.
MoNU has also been very dedicated to fighting the spread of HIV within the sex worker community. They have set up community outreaches where they do free HIV/AIDS testing as well as condom and lubricant distribution. They also offer counselling services and do health care referrals for their members. MoNU was also very instrumental in the creation of an updated national training manual that is to be used by health workers in sensitizing patients about HIV/AIDS. MoNU has furthermore introduced a substance abuse and HIV/AIDS program which helps male sex workers who abuse drugs and alcohol and assists them in assessing the necessary treatment and counseling.
According to Divine Moses, the Programs Director for MoNU, one of their greatest achievements so far has been the documentation of human rights achievements and violations of male sex workers in Uganda. “At the moment, the trailer for a documentary we worked on titled “Men of the Night" is already out- this short film documents the lives of male sex workers in Uganda and the whole movie is set to be premiered by the end of April 2019,” he stated.
However, with all the above programs, MoNU still faces a number of challenges with the biggest obstacle being the stigma and refusal to acknowledge the existence of male sex workers within the Ugandan society. The organization is therefore taking this on and plans to continue its fight to normalize male sex work in the country.