What is the legal status of prostitution in Uganda?
Prostitution in Uganda is illegal, with both the buying and selling of sex being prohibited by law. Despite this, the practice is widespread, and the country has a significant sex worker population. Although there are no official statistics on the number of sex workers in Uganda, it is estimated that tens of thousands of individuals are involved in the trade, with the majority being women.
There are several laws in Uganda that directly or indirectly address prostitution. The Penal Code Act of Uganda criminalizes the act of prostitution, as well as living off the earnings of prostitution, operating a brothel, and procuring a person for the purposes of prostitution.
- Section 131 of the Penal Code Act criminalizes living on the earnings of prostitution and is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
- Section 136 criminalizes the act of operating a brothel and is punishable by up to five years in prison.
- Section 139 criminalizes procuring a person for the purposes of prostitution and is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Additionally, the Anti-Pornography Act of 2014, which is aimed at regulating the production and consumption of pornography, has been used to target sex workers, as it criminalizes the promotion of pornography, which includes promoting or facilitating prostitution.
Law enforcement practices related to prostitution in Uganda are often inconsistent and can vary greatly depending on the region. In some cases, sex workers are arrested and prosecuted, while in other instances, they may be subject to harassment, extortion, or abuse by police officers.
How is prostitution referred to in local Ugandan languages?
In Uganda, there are several local languages, and each may have different terms or slang for prostitution. In Luganda, one of the most widely spoken languages in Uganda, prostitution is commonly referred to as ebizigo or okusalawo. In other languages, such as Luo, it is known as kwer, while in Runyankore, it is called okweshera.
What is the history of prostitution in Uganda?
Prostitution has been present in Uganda for centuries, with historical accounts of the practice dating back to pre-colonial times. During the colonial era, prostitution increased as a result of urbanization and the growth of cash economies. In the years following Uganda’s independence, the sex trade continued to expand, driven by factors such as economic hardship, conflict, and displacement.
In recent decades, the issue of prostitution in Uganda has gained increased attention, particularly in relation to the country’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. The high prevalence of HIV among sex workers has led to calls for increased regulation and support for those involved in the trade. However, efforts to address the issue have often been hampered by stigma, discrimination, and a lack of political will.
How do government laws and policies in Uganda affect the legality of prostitution?
As previously mentioned, prostitution is illegal in Uganda, and the country’s laws and policies reflect this prohibition. The criminalization of prostitution and related activities has led to a range of negative consequences for sex workers, including increased vulnerability to violence, abuse, and exploitation.
However, there have been recent calls for the decriminalization or regulation of prostitution in Uganda, with some arguing that this would better protect the rights and health of sex workers. In 2016, a group of Ugandan sex workers and human rights activists submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court, challenging the constitutionality of the country’s prostitution laws. The case is still pending before the court.
Additionally, some NGOs and international organizations have been advocating for the decriminalization of prostitution in Uganda, arguing that this would improve the human rights situation for sex workers and help to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, these efforts have faced significant opposition from conservative and religious groups within the country.