Hugo Chet­cuti in favour of reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion of pros­ti­tu­tion but says safe­guards are nec­es­sary

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

Club owner, busi­ness­man and hote­lier Hugo Chet­cuti agrees with the reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion of pros­ti­tu­tion, but be­lieves that a number of safe­guards should be put in place to en­sure that those going into this line of work re­alise the de­ci­sion they are mak­ing.

Over the past few weeks, this news­room has in­ter­viewed a number of peo­ple who have high­lighted the sit­u­a­tions in which pros­ti­tutes can find them­selves, and the rea­sons why some women be­come pros­ti­tutes, such as drug de­pen­dency. Some of those in­ter­viewed, in­clud­ing a vol­un­teer who helps pros­ti­tutes med­i­cally and women from women’s rights groups, have backed the Nordic model – which of­fers women the op­por­tu­nity to find new em­ploy­ment but not mak­ing it il­le­gal to work as pros­ti­tutes, but does make it il­le­gal to op­er­ate as a pimp and for the cus­tomers. Talk­ing to this news­room, however, Chet­cuti says he is more in favour of reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion and does not sup­port the Nordic model ap­proach.

“I have no in­ten­tion of get­ting in­volved in the pros­ti­tu­tion business,” he clar­i­fied, while say­ing that he is get­ting rid of his gentleman’s clubs by rent­ing them out.

“I agree with reg­u­lar­i­sa­tion, mainly be­cause pros­ti­tu­tion has been around for many, many years. At least the gov­ern­ment would then be able to con­trol it and get some­thing out of it. Like mar­i­juana, ev­ery country is slowly in­tro­duc­ing le­gal­i­sa­tion. One day, it will be le­gal around the world.”

He rec­om­mends a number of safe­guards, however, such as that ev­ery per­son work­ing as a pros­ti­tute be sub­ject to a rou­tine psy­cho­log­i­cal re­view to en­sure that he/she is in the right frame of mind to take such a de­ci­sion, and that they also be sub­ject to drug tests and would not be al­lowed to work as pros­ti­tutes if they tested pos­i­tive.

Chet­cuti also said that were pros­ti­tu­tion to be reg­u­larised, pros­ti­tutes should be obliged to have health – in­clud­ing STD – checks on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“No stay-at-home wife would ever agree with pros­ti­tu­tion, for fear that their hus­band would go with one. But there are also pros­ti­tutes for women. It is a small per­cent­age, true, but there are. But then again, if a per­son is mar­ried they are not sup­posed to con­sort with pros­ti­tutes. It all comes down to the ques­tion of whether pros­ti­tu­tion would still be around if it is not reg­u­larised, and the an­swer is yes. So then reg­u­late it.”

However, Chet­cuti does not want to see window pros­ti­tutes as one finds in Am­s­ter­dam. He did say that he is in favour of clubs and broth­els. “You don’t want to be pass­ing by with chil­dren and see a pros­ti­tute in a window. It’s like mar­i­juana – if it’s le­galised, you still wouldn’t smoke in front of young chil­dren.”

Asked about the clash of tourism types, given that reg­u­lar- isa­tion would most likely at­tract sex tourism which might not go hand-in-hand with the high-end tourists Malta wants to at­tract, Chet­cuti men­tioned that there could be specif­i­cally des­ig­nated ar­eas. “In Ger­many, there are red light dis­tricts; it’s the same in Brus­sels.”

He ar­gues that he would not have a prob­lem with such es­tab­lish­ments be­ing based in Paceville, as long as there aren’t peo­ple out­side trying to en­tice clients to go in­side.

When this news­room high­lighted that there are pros­ti­tutes in Malta who are abused and forced to con­tinue in pros­ti­tu­tion by their pimps, Chet­cuti said that he doesn’t be­lieve this is a wide-scale sit­u­a­tion. “Nowa­days they all work with com­mis­sion. In the 1960s you’d hear them men­tion­ing the pimps, but I don’t think it’s like that any­more. In Ger­many, they work at a club, the club ad­ver­tises and the clients need to pay to en­ter the club. If you go on the in­ter­net you can find women, men and even trans­ves­tite pros­ti­tutes ad­ver­tised. There’s nothing to hide. If there was a way to re­solve and get rid of pros­ti­tu­tion, then fine, but it will al­ways be around. Some peo­ple ar­gue that it helps avoid rape, but that isn’t true, be­cause I be­lieve that the peo­ple who com­mit rape are ex­cited by it, so that’s not the ar­gu­ment.”

He is not, however, in favour of pros­ti­tutes sell­ing them­selves on the streets and this, he said, is where reg­u­la­tion could help. He said that no­body should be forced into pros­ti­tu­tion. “Give them a choice. There has to be reg­u­la­tion to pro­tect them, and if they are be­ing forced into it they should re­port the sit­u­a­tion to the po­lice. That is com­pletely wrong.”

When this news­room high­lighted the link be­tween drug ad­dic­tion and pros­ti­tu­tion, as other in­ter­vie­wees in the past had pointed out, Chet­cuti said that drug ad­dicts must cure

You don’t want to be pass­ing by with chil­dren and see a pros­ti­tute in a window. It’s like mar­i­juana - if it is le­galised you still wouldn’t smoke in front of young chil­dren

them­selves. “This is an in­di­vid­ual prob­lem which they need to re­solve. Such peo­ple will al­ways find other ways – such as steal­ing. By reg­u­lar­is­ing you might be open­ing up an­other al­ready ex­ist­ing door, but these peo­ple would ei­ther see if they can cure their prob­lem, or will go and steal. Since pros­ti­tu­tion al­ready ex­ists, reg­u­larise it.”

Asked about hu­man traf­fick­ing on the is­land, he said that he doesn’t be­lieve this ex­ists in Malta, at least not when it comes to adults.

Chet­cuti holds that the strip clubs with which he was in­volved do not offer pros­ti­tu­tion, stress­ing that women work­ing there sign con­tracts stat­ing that they are not al­lowed to leave the club with clients dur­ing work­ing hours. “Now, if they go on a date later – that’s up to them. We don’t force women to do their work, they have their per­cent­ages, and there are club reg­u­la­tions that must be fol­lowed.

“They make money, so there are peo­ple who con­sider going into the business to earn a lot of money ev­ery day instead of low wages.”

When this news­room high­lighted the is­sues of mi­grants hav­ing to go into pros­ti­tu­tion as they don’t have many al­ter­na­tives – not just in Malta but across the EU (as high­lighted by the Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Women’s Lobby) Chet­cuti said: “I think such sit­u­a­tions oc­cur, and not just with African mi­grants but also mi­grants from cer­tain parts of Europe. Un­for­tu­nately, you have to work to sur­vive. There are coun­tries where there aren’t enough jobs and so there are prob­lems. Sadly, some have to go into pros­ti­tu­tion as a job.”

As the in­ter­view ended, Chet­cuti pointed out that there are, of course, peo­ple who actually pre­fer to do this kind of work. “I’m talk­ing about es­corts here, of course. I would reg­u­late all those in­volved in the sex in­dus­try.”

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