Sex Trad­ing

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of these ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

Sex traf­fick­ing is giv­ing the old­est pro­fes­sion in the world a bad name. If things keep on like this then how is a girl go­ing to earn an hon­est dol­lar, or, to put it more suc­cinctly, make ends meet? Which is what it's all about ac­tu­ally, mak­ing “ends” meet.

Dif­fer­ent coun­tries deal with the sit­u­a­tion in dif­fer­ent ways. In the heart of Mum­bai, In­dia, where pros­ti­tu­tion, brothel own­er­ship and pimp­ing are illegal, lies Ka­math­ipura, one of the coun­try's poor­est dis­tricts and also home to the city's largest red light dis­trict with more than 60,000 sex work­ers. The women get the equiv­a­lent of US$ 1.50 for sex; $2 on a good night, less than a dol­lar on a bad night. To have sex with­out a con­dom, men will of­ten pay more. Over half of the sex work­ers are HIV pos­i­tive.

It is not sur­pris­ing per­haps, given that men are nor­mally the pros­ti­tutes' most reg­u­lar clients, that gov­ern­ments, of­ten com­prised of men, have a hard time do­ing some­thing about the sex trade. But per­haps again, dear reader, you might agree that there is re­ally noth­ing to be done; I mean, where do the poor girls go when they have sunk as low as they can sink?

Let's face it, not all pros­ti­tutes are des­per­ate for a job – there are some very beau­ti­ful, highly in­tel­li­gent, high-class whores who ply their trade ex­ceed­ingly well out of choice. It's like be­ing a pi­lot (I ac­tu­ally wanted to say a dif­fer­ent pro­fes­sion but those guys are so tired of me bash­ing them, so sorry ‘pilots'); it beats work­ing for a liv­ing.

It is re­ported that in An­gola, be­cause of poverty many women en­gage in pros­ti­tu­tion. It is even said that po­lice sex­u­ally abuse pros­ti­tutes af­ter de­tain­ing them. The Min­istry of Women and Fam­ily Af­fairs main­tains a shel­ter for for­mer pros­ti­tutes. A pop­u­lar belief is that chil­dren cross into neigh­bour­ing Namibia from An­gola with lo­cal truck driv­ers to work as pros­ti­tutes for sur­vival with­out any other third party in­volve­ment. Laws crim­i­nal­iz­ing forced labour, pros­ti­tu­tion, pornog­ra­phy, rape, kid­nap­ping, and illegal en­try are used to pros­e­cute these cases. The min­i­mum prison sen­tence for rape is eight years; sen­tences for re­lated of­fences carry a max­i­mum of life.

Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey car­ried out a while ago in Ad­dis Ababa, Ethiopia, child pros­ti­tu­tion is on the rise. The re­port found that, partly be­cause of poverty, an in­creas­ing num­ber of girls come to the city to be­come sex work­ers. Pros­ti­tu­tion is le­gal in Ethiopia but brothel-own­er­ship and pimp­ing are not, which of course en­cour­ages girls to en­gage in pri­vate en­ter­prise.

Egyp­tian law bans both pros­ti­tu­tion and the mar­riage of girls un­der 16. The penalty for pros­ti­tutes is 3 to 36 months in prison and/ or a fine. Mi­nors in pros­ti­tu­tion are sent to a cor­rec­tive cen­tre, where con­di­tions are of­ten as bad if not worse than they are in adult pris­ons ac­cord­ing to the Egyp­tian Cen­tre for Women's Rights. The man in­volved is not usu­ally pros­e­cuted. He is con­sid­ered a wit­ness and is ex­empt from pun­ish­ment for tes­ti­fy­ing against the pros­ti­tute.

Sene­gal pros­ti­tutes must be at least 21 years of age, register with the po­lice, carry a valid san­i­tary card, and test neg­a­tive for sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions (STIs). Free con­doms are pro­vided be­gin­ning at the first visit to the clinic and are re­newed monthly. Pros­ti­tu­tion was le­gal­ized in this pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­try in 1969. Each pros­ti­tute re­ceives reg­u­lar check­ups, ed­u­ca­tion, and med­i­cal treat­ment, which ex­plains why this West African na­tion of 10.5 mil­lion has an HIV in­fec­tion rate of about two per­cent. Some South­ern African coun­tries, such as Botswana, re­port that 39 % or more of the adult pop­u­la­tion is in­fected.

South Africa's Sex­ual Of­fences Act clas­si­fies pros­ti­tu­tion as an illegal pro­fes­sion. It also pro­hibits the keep­ing of broth­els. Some years ago Cape Town's tourism chiefs wanted the Act to be changed to al­low the city's sex in­dus­try to be reg­u­lated and turned into a ma­jor at­trac­tion to the city. Un­for­tu­nately, I have not kept abreast of de­vel­op­ments and humbly ask my read­ers to do their own re­search.

The Pe­nal Code of Uganda holds any per­son in­volved in pros­ti­tu­tion crim­i­nally li­able for the of­fence even though that per­son is forced to do so against his or her will. The Immigration Act pro­hibits en­try of a pros­ti­tute. Many young girls and women who are traf­ficked into pros­ti­tu­tion or forced to en­ter Uganda il­le­gally are guilty of such of­fences and are fur­ther pun­ished by the law. They are at risk of be­ing im­pris­oned, fined, de­ported and re-traf­ficked if found guilty. There are also no le­gal pro­vi­sions that en­ti­tle vic­tims of traf­fick­ing to re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion de­spite the grave phys­i­cal as­saults, sex­ual abuses, and psy­cho­log­i­cal trauma they ex­pe­ri­ence in the due process. Please note that I wrote this a few years ago, so some of the data may be a bit out of date, but the prob­lems surely re­main.

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