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Sex workers back on MoBay’s streets

Published:Monday | January 25, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Western Bureau:

IN what appears to be an act of defiance, sex workers were back on the streets of Montego Bay in large numbers last weekend, just hours after scores of them were detained, warned and subsequently released by the St James police.

"Work hard fe get and me have me children dem fe tek care, and believe me, gentleman, me nah go tief," one of the sex workers told The Gleaner Friday night. "Me nah hold down nuh man and tek dem money ... . Me have what they want and dem willing to pay for it."

Early last Friday morning, the police swooped down on several sections of the western city, to include the Hip Strip (Gloucester Avenue), Harbour Street, Church Street, Market Street, and the Charles Gordon Market, and detained 76 alleged prostitutes, 43 females and 33 males.

However, instead of being charged, the accused sex workers were all given stern warnings at the Freeport Police Station by senior police personnel, who instructed them not to return to the streets with their illicit behaviour, before releasing them.

"We are not going to tolerate this sort of behaviour in Montego Bay and we will continue to target these ladies until they are off the streets," said Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor, the commanding officer for the St James Police division.


Other players in sex trade

In addition to the prostitutes, persons said to be operating as pimps and persons operating facilities, that are utilised by the sex workers and their clients, were also taken by the police team, which featured personnel from the Mobile Reserve and a unit probing human trafficking.

"We realise that (we had) females walking on the street scantily dressed (who) can't properly account for their whereabouts, where they are from or what they are doing, and are posing a danger to themselves and the parish," said McGregor, who noted that most of those who were held were from as far away as St Ann, Portland and Kingston.

However, one of the women who was detained and subsequently released told The Gleaner that she believes the police understand their plight, hence the decision not to charge them.

"Me have five CXCs ... me go a good school, me is not a dunce .... it is hardship put me on the street," said the woman, who is from Ocho Rios, St Ann. "If me could get a job, I would not be out here, and I told the police that."

According to a police source, the women, who at times made crude gestures in a bid to attract attention, could be charged with a range of offences, including prostitution, indecent exposure and loitering, among other offences.

While most of the men detained were identified as either pimps or persons seeking to solicit sexual favours, the police said three of the men held were "putting themselves out for sale."