Several prostitutes in Lira Municipality and the surrounding urban centres have resorted to hiring rooms in lodges and living rooms to survive arrests by the Police that have conducted operations against them after lining up on the streets in search of clients.
It has emerged that many of them hire the single rooms at Shs15,000 or more per day, depending on the demands of their clients Prostitution is a rapidly growing trade in Lira.
Mr Joe Otim, the officer in-charge of child and family affairs at Lira Central Police Station, told this newspaper that the police have so far handled about 260 cases of girls neglected from their homes in the past nine months, most of whom have since turned commercial sex workers.
Practice on the increase
Mr Otim said: “Most of the girls who have been neglected end up on streets as prostitutes while those who have been enduring domestic violence in their marriage homes also have turned to prostitution.”
The growing trade has seen residents in Lira Town divided on whether to support the police in cracking down on prostitutes or not.
Ms Betty Adupa, a resident, said it is unfortunate that the Police and municipal council officials are forcefully arresting the sex workers while John Benson Obote, an evangelist of Catholic Charismatic Renewal, supports the police’s actions.
Prostitution is illegal in Uganda, but sex workers operate freely in many urban centres. In 2003, some urban authorities ordered sex workers to pay taxes in order to operate in their councils, a move they vehemently resisted. The sex workers claim that they are a minority group whose rights need to be protected.