A-Musings: Sex Trading

Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.

Sex trafficking is giving the oldest profession in the world a bad name. If things keep on like this then how is a girl going to earn an honest dollar, or, to put it more succinctly, make ends meet, which is what it’s all about actually, making “ends” meet.

Different countries deal with the situation in different ways. In the heart of Mumbai, India, where prostitution, brothel ownership and pimping are illegal, lies Kamathipura, one of the country’s poorest districts and also home the city’s largest red light district with more than 60,000 sex workers. The women get the equivalent of US$ 1.50 for sex; $2 on a good night, less than a dollar on a bad night. To have sex without a condom, men will often pay more. More than half of the sex workers are HIV positive.

It is not surprising perhaps, given that men are normally the prostitutes’ most regular clients, that governments, often comprised of men, have a hard time doing something about the sex trade. But perhaps again, dear reader, you might agree that there is really nothing to be done about the sex trade; I mean, where do the poor girls go when they have sunk as low as they can sink?

Let’s face it, not all prostitutes are desperate for a job – there are some very beautiful, highly intelligent, high-class whores who ply their trade exceedingly well out of choice. It’s like being a pilot (I actually wanted to say a different profession but those guys are so tired of me bashing them, so sorry ‘pilots’); it beats working for a living

It is reported that in Angola, because of poverty many women engage in prostitution. It is even said that police sexually abuse prostitutes after detaining them. The Ministry of Women and Family Affairs maintains a shelter for former prostitutes. A popular belief is that children cross into neighbouring Namibia from Angola with local truck drivers to work as prostitutes for survival without any other third party involvement. Laws criminalizing forced labour, prostitution, pornography, rape, kidnapping, and illegal entry are used to prosecute these cases. The minimum prison sentence for rape is eight years; sentences for related offenses carry a maximum of life.

According to a survey carried out a while ago in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, child prostitution is on the rise. The report found that, partly because of poverty, an increasing number of girls come to the city to become sex workers. Prostitution is legal in Ethiopia but brothel-ownership and pimping are not, which of course encourages girls to engage in private enterprise.

Egyptian law bans both prostitution and the marriage of girls under 16. The penalty for prostitutes is 3 to 36 months in prison and/or a fine. Minors in prostitution are sent to a corrective centre, where conditions are often as bad if not worse than they are in adult prisons according to the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights. The man involved is not usually prosecuted. He is considered a witness and is exempt of punishment for testifying against the prostitute.

Senegal Prostitutes must be at least 21 years of age, register with the police, carry a valid sanitary card, and test negative for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Free condoms are provided beginning at the first visit to the clinic and are renewed monthly. Prostitution was legalized in this predominantly Muslim country in 1969. Each prostitute receives regular checkups, education, and medical treatment, which explains why this West African nation of 10.5 million has an HIV infection rate of about two percent. Some Southern African countries, such as Botswana, report that 39 % or more of the adult population is infected.

South Africa’s Sexual Offences Act classifies prostitution as an illegal profession. It also prohibits the keeping of brothels. Some years ago Cape Town’s tourism chiefs wanted the Act to be changed to allow the city’s sex industry to be regulated and turned into a major attraction to the city. Unfortunately, I have not kept abreast of developments and humbly ask my readers to do their own research.

The Penal Code of Uganda holds any person involved in prostitution criminally liable for the offence even though that person is forced to do so against his or her will. The Immigration Act prohibits entry of a prostitute. Many young girls and women who are trafficked into prostitution or forced to enter Uganda illegally are guilty of such offences and are further punished by the law. They are at a risk of being imprisoned, fined, deported and re-trafficked if found guilty. There are also no legal provisions that entitle victims of trafficking to rehabilitation despite the grave physical assaults, sexual abuses, and psychological trauma they experience in the due process.

I wrote this a few years ago, so some of the data may be a bit out of date, but the problems surely remain.

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