SIR â€” The raising of the question of legalisation of prostitution by the deputy speaker of parliament Ms Rebecca Kadaga while meeting a delegation of Ghana MPs is a subject that has attracted lots of differing opinions from different social and political commentators.
As one of those who have followed this debate right from the beginning, I thought it worthwhile that I should add my voice to the deputy speakerâ€™s. As she rightly observed, this as is any subject of sexual content, is a controversial issue but sex workers do deserve an audience as they are citizens of this country and what they do has a direct influence on the spread of HIV/AIDS.
At the time they approached the social service committee of parliament to pass a law legalising their behaviour, I set out on a fact-finding study about prostitution, its implications on society and the reasons it is thriving despite the stigma caused out of scorn meted upon these women from the moralists in society. I later compiled my findings as a novel entitled â€œQueen of the harlotsâ€, yet to be published.
The life of the main character, Cynthia Mafabi alias Queen in this novel, is a fictitious though largely realistic portrayal of factors that fan this evil in our society! Here was a girl who didnâ€™t know her mother â€” who must have probably been a prostitute, lived with an abusive father who died when she was only 10 years old, which culminated into her rape at the vulnerable age of 13 by a man who supposedly had become his guardian in the absence of her father. The rape prompted her to go in search of her fatherâ€™s only living relative who it turned out was a prostitute but who loved and cared for this deprived girl until her unfortunate, and I must say untimely death, in an accident while on a business trip with a client. Left alone without an education but lots of admiration from her late auntâ€™s long list of admirers, she endes up becoming a prostitute despite despising the practice!
It is however important to note that this narrative in no way serves to legitimise the existence of prostitution but to shade light on the underlying factors to this social evil that is on the increase in Uganda and indeed other parts of the world today. Also as most of us know but would rather not believe, this is one of the primary factors leading to the escalating spread of HIV/AIDS at a time when it had been thought the successes registered in its fight would be taking route in our society.
As a right thinking citizen, I do contend that indeed this is something we must find remedy to but outright condemnation alone without finding a practical solution to the causes of prostitution is a cosmetic attempt at hiding from reality. Prostitution is here with us to stay and the best way to tackle it is by allowing open discussion about possible remedies.
One of these is legalisation of the practice as this would make it possible to carry out an aggressive awareness campaign on issues of HIV/AIDS and its prevention, make it possible to put in place laws to protect the rights of these women from their customers. It would also make it possible to eliminate the problem of being a public nuisance as these women should by law only operate in designated areas.
To the honourable minister of ethics and integrity, his contention as quoted in the press that parliament should just ignore these women because they are simply immoral has the designs of an ostrich that buries its head in the sand in the assumption that it cannot be seen since it itself doesnâ€™t see!
As one of the leading proponents of declaration of national prayer days, he is better suited to know that these prayers wonâ€™t be any use if steps are not taken to institutionally tackle the countryâ€™s problems.
Stephen W. Wonekha Entebbe
No use behaving like an ostrich!