Sex workers have raised alarm over the rising cases of murder and kidnapping of women in Uganda. In over one-year, more than 30 women have been brutally killed.
According to Uganda Network for Sex Worker Organisations (UNESO), in 2017, 28 women were brutally murdered and an additional 10 have at least been killed this year. Several of these women were identified as sex workers.
There are claims some of the killings are linked to rituals in witchcraft.
“Due to the nature of our work, we are prone to these merciless killings, but we grieve with the general public as these tragedies not only affect sex workers but the whole womanhood and innocent children of Uganda,” says the organisation in a statement.
Last month, human rights defenders including UNESO held a demonstration to call attention to the murders that police had dismissed as ‘no big deal’.
On one occasion, a police officer was quoted as saying that killing of sex workers is of no consequence.
Despite numerous calls to act, the police have been slow in investigating or arresting perpetrators.
The march was organised by Women’s Protest Working Group with solidarity from human rights defenders globally.
UNESO says its members will not relent until the murders are addressed.
“The Constitution of Uganda provides for a right to life which encompasses the right to a meaningful and dignified life. It also guarantees the right to freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment. However this is a right that is currently being deprived of very many Ugandan women,” says the organisation.
Members are also calling on the Ugandan Parliament to take action including allocating more money to the police department to fight crime.
The police department has in the past claimed it is under-resourced to effectively fight crime.