A planned conference by sex workers, which was scheduled to start yesterday in Entebbe, was abruptly halted by the government, saying it was illegal. The conference was organised by Akina Mama Wa Afrika, an international women’s rights NGO with offices in Kampala, was to be held in a hotel in Entebbe.
Addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo said the conference, which government learnt of on Wednesday, had attracted prostitutes from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. “Government reiterates its position that prostitution is a punishable offence. While it is true that we have had problems with enforcing the law, the government is determined to defend innocent Ugandans who very often fall victim to selfish as well as misguided individuals who are promoting prostitution,” Dr Buturo said, adding he ordered the hotel not to allow the meeting to take place. “Promotion of criminal acts under the claim of defense of one’s human rights is not one for this government.”
One of the officials of the organisation, who refused to reveal her identity, only said: “If the meeting has been stopped, how can it continue?” She added that she was not aware of the topic and the function of the conference. Most sex workers in Uganda, especially in city, are less than 35 years and join the sex trade due to different problems like poverty, unemployment and illiteracy.
Dr Buturo also revealed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which brought controversy between government and donors, will be revisited upon completion of the Chogm debate which is on-going. Last year, participants discussed ways of protecting sex workers from HIV/Aids amidst calls from the public to ban the meeting.