Fri | Aug 18, 2017

George Davis | Ja's stance on weed shows path for prostitution

Published:Wednesday | June 14, 2017 | 6:00 AM

It was with wry amusement over so many years that I watched this country maintain the ganja laws on the books at the same time that everyone who wanted to smoke the weed was able to do so. I saw irony and worse at play when in one instance, a man would be walking through the crowd at a FIFA World Cup Qualifier at the National Stadium with small bags of the weed bunched on to a piece of wire like peanut products, screaming 'hi grade, hi grade' at the top of his voice and looking with disdain at the policeman who stood metres away from him; while on the day after, read about a man who was arrested by members of a police patrol because, while walking home after a long day at work, he was seen by the lawmen with a 'spliff' tail in his mouth.

I felt anger watching influential men in society, who I saw smoking weed, pontificate about the virtues of being drug free and how the ganja laws must remain intact. My blood boiled as I saw respectable women, who in the past had taken lovers who had shared a 'spliff' or two with them, urge young men and women to stay away from that 'ugly, terrible drug'. But then the situation with Mario Deane happened, precipitating the decriminalisation of ganja and neutering the hypocrisy surrounding ganja use.

I've used this example to illustrate my feelings about prostitution. Like ganja use, which was as rampant as it was unaffected by the provisions of the old Dangerous Drugs Act, prostitution will be brought into the fold. For the record, I have never patronised a prostitute in Jamaica, the dozen or so states in the USA or any of the countries to which I've travelled. But like everywhere else on the inhabited earth, prostitution is alive in Jamaica. And she's well. The fact is that prostitution is legal in over 70 countries around the world, including those paragons of economic and social progress, including Denmark, Finland, Canada, Belgium, Germany and even Costa Rica. Those lazy of thinking will think it's a free-for-all in these countries, but the prostitution industry in all those countries is subject to heavy regulation as individual governments fight against the scourge of human trafficking and slavery which often go hand in hand with the flesh business.

 

Small victory

 

In Germany, those lobbying for the legalisation of prostitution had to wait 20 years for a small victory. That small victory took effect on January 1, 2002, with the promulgation of the Act on the Regulation of Prostitute's Legal Affairs, commonly known as the Prostitution Act. I say small victory because the new law, while giving facilitation to the prostitution trade, fell way short of campaigners' desire to see the flesh trade being treated like other types of businesses in Germany. There are estimates which put the annual gross revenue from prostitution in Germany at $18 billion euros, fourth behind top-ranked China, Spain and Japan. The point of mentioning revenue numbers is to show how governments can put themselves in position to earn from an industry that would have been flourishing and generating revenues anyway, even as the laws, along with society's conscience were set against it.

I smile when I drive along Lyndhurst Road, Ivy Green Crescent, Maxfield Avenue, Waltham Park Road by day and see several premises with signs for guest houses. By night, including on fortnight Friday but especially on month-end Friday, these guest houses have many visitors, often men driving with females who rent a room ... and rest. Notice I've not even touched Port Henderson Road, commonly called Back Road. It's common to see the police conducting vehicle spot checks on one side of the road, while on the other side, women of all shapes and sizes are speaking to clients, discussing the terms and conditions under which flesh will be traded.

All I'm saying is that as we maintain the prostitution law the industry continues to grow, with more persons building more rooms to accommodate more tired people at the end of the pay cycle. Prostitution will be legalised. I await. Selah.

- George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and george.s.davis@hotmail.com.