Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Macklean Kyomya, the Executive Director at Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (AWAC), an organization that advocates for rights of key populations, said that they have recorded complaints of officers breaking into hotel rooms and arresting sex workers while threatening them to pay bribes.
advocates have condemned the continued harassment of sex workers especially by police
officers under the guise of enforcing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
against COVID-19 to defraud them of their money.
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Macklean Kyomya, the
Executive Director at Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (AWAC), an
organization that advocates for rights of key populations, said that they have
recorded complaints of officers breaking into hotel rooms and arresting sex
workers while threatening them to pay bribes.
She says that during the recent on a guest
house in Rubaga division, the sex workers claim to have paid not less than Shillings
100, 000 for their freedom.
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Calling on the president not to accent to the
controversially Sexual Offenses Bill that was approved by parliament in May,
Kyomya said the police are already warming up for its operationalisation since
it criminalizes sex work.
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According to Kyomya, they have rescued nine sex workers who
were being held in custody and they reported majority of their colleagues to
have paid their way out of detention.
While the curfew that starts at 7pm has pushed sex workers off the street,
another Activist Richard Lusimbo says the women have found themselves in a hard
place without food yet they are not considered among the needy to receive the
Shillings 100, 000 COVID-19 cash relief from the government.
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He pushes for inclusiveness of key populations in programming such as sex
workers, prisoners and injection drug users among others whose needs should be prioritized since already some national policies and programmes like the
National HIV and AIDS strategic plan have recognized them.
But Dr. Daniel Byamukama, who heads the HIV Prevention at the Uganda AIDS Commission,
says this is hard at the moment given the societal prejudices, especially the
call to repeal laws criminalizing sexual activity and sex work.
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prejudices rule,” //
He however notes that the commission is set to conduct a legal environment
assessment. In this exercise, he says even the sexual offenses bill, which is
not yet accented to will be evaluated. He says the consultants will among others ask communities
and other stakeholders their view about the legal regime in relation to the
The report from this
assessment will then act as a guide or reference book for MPs when legislating
such issues as human rights and HIV.