Having read the article published in the STAR on 10 March 2012 headlined, “Health Minister speaks out on prostitution debate”, I decided to write a response particularly about clause 151.
I don’t want prostitution of any kind on this island. I am aware that this happens in many countries around the world, but don’t want to see it here. We are an independent island, 33 years old, and have celebrated Emancipation from slavery, and more recently International Women’s Day. It angers and saddens me that we find ourselves debating whether St Lucian women and men should prostitute themselves.
Clause 151 is being considered for decriminalization: “. . . the prostitute living on the earnings . . . ” In European countries where prostitution was legalized it has become a thorn in the flesh for governments, igniting an unstoppable slave trade. In some Eastern European countries, many women found themselves unemployed after the fall of USSR. Young women seeking honest work replied to what appeared to be legitimate offers of jobs in newspapers, of work in the United Kingdom for example. When they arrive at the airport they are met by their employer, who informs them they are now his property. He confiscates the young woman’s passport and kidnaps her. She unwillingly becomes a sex worker, pimped out by a gang master, often part of a ring of such gang masters.
The women, who are powerless to complain: far from home, unable to speak the language, trafficked, will receive beatings, no hospital treatment to follow, they are often drugged and raped numerous times, by numbers of men, unable to escape the brothel, their imprison; with threats of harm or death to their families if they try.
The problem is beyond repair in Holland, where prostitution has been legalized for many years, and legitimate businesses were set up with ease by Madams/Pimps, fuelled mostly by young women and children, kidnapped, bought, sold, and traded in this modern slavery. My concern is the ease of setting up a business in Saint Lucia, any doorway that is open to selling humans must be welded shut, our ports closed, forever. Our history was one of slavery; I don’t want to see that repeated here, now or in generations to come. Thus, it is a good idea for clause 151 to make living off earnings of prostitutes, prostitution, or buying and selling of humans, trafficked, illegal.
There are more concerns with decriminalizing prostitution. Some people are of the opinion that if a prostitute chooses to continue living this lifestyle it will remain behind closed doors. No it doesn’t. The nation is left with a legacy. Consider the outcome if men refuse to use contraception: abortions and unwanted pregnancies will follow, orphans. Who will look after them? Do such facilities exist here? If so, will they be able to cope with the growing number, when more women decide to prostitute themselves? Some will be given up for adoption; will they have the legal right to know who their birth mother or father is? What effect will it have on them learning they were offspring of rape from prostitution? In South Africa, abandoned babies by the side of the road, born with HIV to parents who have died from AIDS leaving no one to care for them and numerous funerals. Fortunately, overseas missionaries and charities stepped in to help with expensive specialist medical care, picking up babies deposited by mothers in cardboard boxes. What future for them, having outgrown their orphanage? Will they be vulnerable adults and perpetuate the cycle of prostitution in another generation? They must have continued support all their lives.
Consider the spread of HIV and AIDS, which can only be monitored with investment in medical care. Male and female registered Prostitutes are a high risk group for the disease; even when countries invested money and treatment to combat the spread of the virus. Holland, have tried screening and testing Sex workers, in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading. But the HIV virus has an incubation period when it cannot be detected; thus the prostitute may carry the virus and continue unwittingly passing it on to clients.
We should also consider our position on the World stage: Saint Lucia, beautiful island paradise, welcoming tourists, their families, and newlyweds for honeymoons and weddings.
Think how this image is blighted by sex tourism, adults seeking to pay for sex with men, women or children just because they think it’s allowed. This happens in Thailand—in the 1970s they decided to decriminalise prostitution. I have been to Thailand and was shocked. You’ll see bars of young European to elderly aged men with women all in their late teens to twenties bought for the night; others dancing in night clubs, girls, boys, lady boys, where the boys look like Miss World having had their operation to remove the Adam’s apple and male genitalia, transvestites, and transsexuals, secret shows, midnight markets, where human beings are for sale. There they have a terrible problem with child prostitution; vulnerable children are pimped to paedophiles. Missionaries have government permission to care for children and try to correct the damage done decades ago; when government gave in to prostitution, making it an industry. Thailand is as beautiful as here, but I know many families and couples who are disgusted by the sex trade and refuse to have a family vacation there.
Do your own research on the countries I have mentioned, the internet is at you fingertips. I don’t want to see my home, Helen’s image to be sullied beyond repair.
What disturbs me most about the decriminalisation of prostitution is what changing the law means. We, the nation, encouraging men and women to take part in complicit acts where they prostitute themselves, putting them in a position of harm; with the risks of disease, assault, drugs, bondage, daily rape, rape with implements, threatened with weapons, and mental torture. Prostitution is what it is, rape, legalised or not. I will not support this legalization. There is no protection when a prostitute is at the mercy of the client behind locked doors, when one human dominates another, because they sold their rights by way of payment. It is rape; it is not a relationship or a job. (Note that throughout the article I have refused to call them commercial sex workers, this implies them being employed, pimped, paying taxes, working legally, not breaking the law.) It should not be thought of as a credible career, where fathers take their sons to lose their virginity.
We need to turn the tide. How? By helping those who are vulnerable. There is often little talk of that in the debate. I agree to help. On the radio, I heard there are approximately 750 prostitutes on island? They need help and this is not beyond us. This a relatively small number compared with the thousands we could be facing if we decriminalise. These prostitutes have put themselves in harm’s way; motivated by poverty and the needs of their families. I would not presume to know everything, but here are somethings to help them make a start, help with: finance to provide for their families, food, shelter, money for bills, a chance to make a real start with education, legitimate business, literacy, medical treatment and a chance to heal, from the emotional scars through prayer and counselling.
We can start to put things in place now; look to government, church leaders, business, hospitals, charities, overseas charities (invite them in), missionaries, who can really help. We can stand against this and other nations will stand with you.
Dear Lord, Jesus help us work to protect and pray, for our men and women who think they have no alternative. I ask you dear reader, what are you prepared to do? I encourage you to write to your MP, senator, organise petitions stop them in the street and tell them your views and write to your newspaper, email—this decision will change the face of Saint Lucia forever.
Do your own research online, a good place to start: “10 reasons for not legalising prostitution” by Janice G. Raymond, also Google “countries with legalized prostitution” see the consequences.
There are countries around the world that have chosen not to decriminalise prostitution and they have done better than those that have. In spite of all the research, I am unmoved by the debate to decriminalise, and think the law should remain unchanged: Prostitution in all its forms should remain illegal.
Dear Lord God Father in heaven, my Jesus, help us to seek you in all things, especially in the direction of our Nation, let us not give in to bondage, lies; let us remember how You saved the prostitute from sin, and gave her a new life because she committed her life to you, an everlasting life free from sin and death.
May we be guided by Your Holy Spirit in all the decisions we make and may we pray and continue to seek your face. Thank you Jesus, Amen. Seek Christ . . . I do, everyday.
By Andrea Clarey