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8 Feb, 2019 09:15

Selling the nation’s women? Tourism minister under fire over ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ contest

Selling the nation’s women? Tourism minister under fire over ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ contest

The ‘curvy, sexy’ women of Uganda are set to be promoted as an attraction for visitors to the African nation. But the tourism minister who came up with the idea is now facing calls to resign from local feminists.

Uganda already boasts stunning scenery, national parks, and a wide variety of wildlife. But Minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda announced a new initiative to get more people to visit the country – the ‘Miss Curvy Uganda’ beauty pageant. He hopes it will help increase the influx of visitors and tourist dollars.

Flanked by a small army of curvaceous women around the swimming pool of a Kampala hotel for the pageant’s launch, Minister Kiwanda told the Daily Monitor: “We have naturally endowed, nice-looking women that are amazing to look at. Why don’t we use these people as a strategy to promote our tourism industry?”

Due to take place in June, the pageant’s organizer, Ann Mungoma, said it will “bring out the endowment of the real African woman,” showcasing both their “beautiful curves and intellect.”

Not everyone agrees, however. Uganda’s feminists have struck back at the event, saying it demeans and objectifies women. They have called on Minister Kiwanda to step down.

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The two hosts of popular Ugandan morning radio show Gaetano & Lucky In The Morning locked horns in a vigorous debate over the pageant, with the female host Lucky slamming it as a “lazy way of thinking,” and wondering whether her co-host Gaetano would be willing to ‘sell’ his sister this way. He tried to parry the question by saying the event actually promotes diverse beauty (which is also the line taken by the pageant’s organizer) and noting that many other countries already have similar events.

Meanwhile, a petition has been set up to have the event shut down and for Kiwanda to issue a public apology to the nation’s women.

“In a country where women are grabbed by men while walking on the streets and now they have legalized it by making them tourist attractions is not fair,” wrote the petition’s author, Primrose Murungi.

“They are objectifying us and reducing women to nothing.”

Meanwhile, Kenyan TV star Grace Msalame is taking legal action against the Miss Curvy Uganda organizers, as she says her image was used to promote the event without her knowledge.

“I take great exception to the fact that my image and likeness are being used to propagate, disseminate and encourage the objectification of women’s bodies. I do not endorse or agree with such a message,” she said.

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