It is all about survival – MoBay prostitutes
Despite the objections raised by the Church and the municipal authorities and the recent crackdown by the police, prostitutes operating on the streets of Montego Bay are vowing to continue their illicit sex-peddling, saying it is their only means of survival.
"We have we youth to take care of enuh, and if we nuh do this, weh we a go do? Walk round and rob people make them shoot we?" argued Princess, who seemed anxious to justify her reason for being a commercial sex worker. "Anytime we see them (the police) we run, 'cause we still have to come make we money.
Like Princess, who is from St Catherine and is the mother of three children, most of the sex workers operating in Montego Bay are from other parishes. Coming to Montego Bay is a way of disguising what they are doing from residents of their home communities.
While most of the prostitutes have only been operating in Montego Bay for three to four years, most of them claim that they have built up a solid roster of clients, ranging from the everyday man to business professionals.
"Everybody out yah have them regular client weh come every night. Married man, businessman and even the same police," said a woman, who gave her name as Munchie.
Detailing the intricacies of their work, the ladies outlined that their 'services' range in cost from a low of $1,500 for 15 to 20 minutes. Clients who want to go beyond the specified time will have to fork over more cash.
According to the 'ladies', they can make upwards of $10,000 or more on a 'good night' and it is for this reason why many of them have no short-term plans to exit the trade.
"Me nuh see when me a go stop. A it we live off a. Nuff a we out yah have we subject and can't get no work, so we affi come sell because we no have nuh better choice," explain Princess. "We work and build up we place and most of us out yah have we bar. Me a promoter, every week me keep dance a Granville."
Despite being on the road every night, some of the prostitutes admitted that they do have boyfriends who know the type of work they are in and have no problems with it.
When the Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) unit at the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) was contacted about their intervention activities with the commercial sex workers, Serena Holder-Campbell, parish health promotion and education officer, said these women were among those considered to be part of the vulnerable or high- risk population for HIV infection.
"Some of our target groups are commercial sex workers and so we provide some level of counselling. We usually have workshops, where we educate them and help them to understand what is HIV, looking at the risks, and teaching them about condom negotiation skills," said Holder-Campbell.
She said some commercial sex workers have also been trained as peer counsellor to provide counselling services to their peers.
"Let me add that it (counselling) is a general thing that happens right across Jamaica, not just in St James," said Holder-Campbell.