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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Uganda MPs to meet sex workers
Kampala sex workers want secure areas to practice their trade
Uganda's parliament has agreed to meet sex workers to discuss their claims of police harassment.

Parliamentary Speaker Edward Ssekandi has instructed a committee of MPs to meet the prostitutes after they complained to him.

The chairperson of the legal and parliamentary affairs committee, Ms Dora Byamukama, said on Tuesday that the sex workers would present their grievances in private.

Sex workers can often be seen standing outside the big hotels in the capital, Kampala.

They say it is unfair of the police to arrest them while they are waiting for clients.

Small fine

Aggrey Awori, the Samia Bugwe North MP, told BBC News Online that the Idle and Disorderly law was not only unfair but it was also outdated.

"This law is unfair and discriminates against the thousands of young females in the country, some of them graduates, who have no conventional jobs," says Mr Awori.

Uganda parliament
Sex workers have sought protection from the Ugandan parliament

"The law was enacted by the colonialists in order to keep away Africans from the urban areas. It has no place in modern Uganda".

Magistrates usually impose a small fine on the sex workers who appear before them.

The majority immediately return to the streets to practice their profession.

The BBC's Ali Mutasa in Kampala, says the police may also wish to see the law changed so as to avoid the routine of arresting the people only to see them back in the streets the following day.

Mr Awori says he will himself table a bill to repeal the "repugnant" law.

The sex workers also want the Kampala city council to gazette specific areas in the city where they can freely and safely practice their profession.

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