Uganda' tourism minister has been slammed for suggesting that the country's "curvy women" should be used to attract foreign tourists.
The comments were made by Godfrey Kiwanda, Uganda's State Minister for Tourism, at the launch of a beauty pageant in the African nation's capital, Kampala.
The "Miss Curvy" contest, to be held in June, was to be used as part of a tourism campaign, MailOnline Travel reports.
"Uganda is endowed with beautiful women. Their beauty is unique and diverse. That's why we decided to use the unique beauty, the curves... to make this beauty a product to be marketed along with what we already have as a country ranging from nature, the language and food, to make it a tourist attraction," Kiwanda told AFP.
"The winner of the Miss Curvy contest was to be part of our tourism campaign brand using beauty as one other product of tourism."
However, Ugandan women have hit out against the proposal, calling for Kiwanda's resignation.
Rita Aciro, executive director of the Uganda Women's Network, described the campaign as a "perversion".
"To think women can be used as sex objects in this age and time is an absurdity and we condemn it," she told AFP.
An online petition to stop the campaign was also launched by Ugandan entrepreneur and activist Primrose Nyonyozi Murungi.
She described the plans as "totally unacceptable and demeaning" and said that if the campaign was not stopped immediately, petitioners would take their case to court.
"Women in Uganda have been attacked while on the streets. What happens now that the government is confirming a stereotype that women are sexual objects and can be touched regardless and more so made a product of tourism," she told AFP.
She has also demanded an apology from the government, as well as Kiwanda's resignation.
According to CNN, Uganda's Minister of Ethics and Integrity Rev Fr Simon Lokodo called on the Tourism Ministry to showcase Uganda's wide array of tourist attractiongs, rather than "scandalizing" the nation.
"I totally condemn that pageant and I would want it stopped," Lokodo said in an interview with Record TV Uganda. "It is not fair to women, and girls growing up because it undignifies them."
The campaign was also met with anger on social media, where many called for the cancellation of the Miss Curvy Uganda pageant altogether.
Funmi Oyatogun wrote on Twitter: "Uganda has some of the wildest adrenaline adventures in Africa, the River Nile, game parks, majestic lakes and a huge untapped market for tourism.
"Guess their strategy? Use curvy women to promote the country. You know, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction."
"In Uganda, curvy women are now tourist 'products' as if zoo animals. On a scale of 1-10, how stupid is your tourism minister?" wrote @kaktshozi_.
"Will they put these women in a cage for the tourists to see?" added @bae_perfection.
In response to the criticism, Kiwanda said the campaign was not aimed at demeaning women.
"Diverse as we are as a country we have a message to put out there about the different curves our women have, which we believe is a tourism attraction," he said.
Tourism is on the rise in Uganda, where most visitors travel to see its wildlife. The country has the largest population of gorillas and species of birds per square kilometre than anywhere else in the world, according to MailOnline Travel.
Uganda was visited by 1.32 million tourists in 2017, up from one million the previous year.