Karrie Williams, Gleaner Writer
In the wake of recent news that Zurich, Switzerland, now has a secured compound for sex workers, prostitutes in western Jamaica have renewed their call for the legalisation of the trade locally and the establishment of red-light districts.
"We need better protection from the Government because we are legitimately trying to earn a living to support ourselves and our children," said Angella Brown, a Negril-based prostitute. "Just like everyone else, we have bills to pay."
In making reference to the situation in Switzerland, Brown bemoaned the fact that local prostitutes are left exposed to the scorn of a society.
"The Government needs to step in and give us the green light (red-light district) or otherwise provide jobs for us," she said.
The bid for legitimacy has again drawn rejection from the Church, with one prominent church leader saying an emphatic "no".
"The Church remains in opposition to the legalisation of prostitution in Jamaica," said the Rev Conrad H. Pitkin, pastor of the Montego Bay-based Faith Temple Assemble of God. "Firstly, from a moral perspective, we believe it is not appropriate, and secondly, we cannot open the nation and our young children to that sort of conduct."
Legalisation not the answer
Professor Affette McCaw-Binns, lecturer at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, who seemed to favour the legalisation of sex workers in a 2004 Gleaner article, is now singing a different tune.
"I don't know if legalisation is the answer to all these behaviours," said McCaw-Binns in an interview with The Gleaner yesterday. "We often seek magic bullets to complex and difficult problems, instead of identifying the underlying determinants of these problems."
Unlike Pitkin and McCaw-Binns, attorney-at-law Nathan Robb, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, said the sex trade is none of the chamber's business, albeit the city's reputation as a long-standing haven for prostitutes.