Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Keep close watch on prostitutes

Published:Friday | November 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Keep close watch on prostitutes


The headline on the front page of The Sunday Gleaner some months ago (June 24, 2014) almost says it all: 'Sex shop slavery - Forced prostitution in massage parlours'. It further develops that the young ladies seeking employment in massage parlours 'are forced into having sex with clients'.

'Forced'? I am not sure how that would work. I doubt it is possible to force sex on an able-bodied woman without committing rape, a serious criminal offence. The procedure, I suspect, would involve the payment of some money for sexual favours, which makes the act 'prostitution', a common-enough problem in Jamaica.

Surprisingly, there have been few, if any, arrests for trafficking in females, young or old, and not of the age suspected. Nor are there mass arrests and convictions for prostitutes, or disciplinary procedures. There are reports of missing girls almost every day in the Jamaican press, and I fear these children are the ones captured and trafficked. Many are never found or never return.

But we are a small island. Why is it we cannot monitor the situation more closely? Children may go out via container ships, but they would have to be tied, drugged, and otherwise restrained. Now the rule is, a closed container ship has to be searched by customs or security agents for contraband before departure. What is happening now that does not reveal the ship's outgoing cargo?

It appears that while prostitution is still prevalent, abductions are taking place in greater numbers. So how is this being facilitated?

Human Rights Watch believes hundreds of women, many of them refugees of conflicts, criminal or otherwise social, are being sold into forced marriages and relationships.

Therefore, we need, in Jamaica, a measure of conspicuous control: Prostitutes, and their activities, their family and children, need to be logged and accounted for from an early age. While this is being done, the health and social well-being of the person (the prostitute) should also be recorded, creating some permanent record of their existence and the development of their 'careers'.

So we need to go to the designated authority for a system of monitoring prostitutes, their business practices, their medical conditions, their families and social practices. Otherwise, the fear of communicable diseases, acts of violent criminality, and transmitted social misbehaviour will continue to persist.