Ugandan government-promoted 'Miss Curvy' beauty contest receives scathing reactions

Ugandan government-promoted 'Miss Curvy' beauty contest receives scathing reactions
Photo credit: Miss Curvy Uganda

A "Miss Curvy" beauty pageant aimed at promoting the Ugandan tourist industry has caused a government row and condemnation from women's rights activists.

Godfrey Kiwanda, the east African nation's Tourism Minister, launched a beauty contest to draw foreign visitors to Uganda as part of the "Tulambule" (Let's tour) tourism promotion.

"We have naturally endowed, nice-looking women that are amazing to look at," he said at the pageant's launch on Tuesday (local time).

"Why don't we use these people as a strategy to promote our tourism industry?"

While a petition calling for the contest to be dropped nears 2000 signatures, the pageants website still says "the search is on" and asks "are you curvy, smart, beautiful and responsible?"

But it has received scathing reactions, with women's rights activists labelling it dehumanising towards women and calling for the minister to resign.

"It's a shame to women and girls of Ugandans," said Rita Aciro, executive director of the Uganda Women's Network.

"Common sense tells you tourism is not promoted using women's bodies. Women are not sex objects."

It has also received a harsh rebuke from Mr Kiwanda's colleague, the Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, who said the contest "definitely could not happen".

"It's shameful. I strongly condemn it. It demeans women and completely destroys their integrity," he said.

"It's not different from the striptease that they put in bars and lodges. It completely reduces a woman to toys of entertainment."

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism generates $750 million for the Uganda's GDP.


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