Is pros­ti­tu­tion the easy road to Bet­ter Days?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Faye-Chantelle Mon­de­sir

On a Fri­day around 8:30 p.m. a grey Audi pulls into the park­ing lot of a cer­tain ho­tel north of Cas­tries. A 20-some­thing-year-old in a shiny, skin-tight, turquoise dress that barely cov­ers her Nikki Mi­naj booty emerges on six-inch teal-coloured heels from the idling au­to­mo­bile, de­signer bag held close to her am­ple chest, and dashes to­ward the ho­tel. At the lobby she stops to con­verse with a uni­formed se­cu­rity man. As she turns to walk away, she smiles se­duc­tively at the man, then heads for the cor­ri­dor and the ho­tel’s el­e­va­tor. The Audi slowly backs out of the lot and speeds away.

The se­cu­rity of­fi­cer ap­proaches one of the re­cep­tion­ists at the ho­tel’s front desk. “To­day’s young women,” he chuck­les be­hind his con­cern,“I just don’t know what’s with them. It’s like they never heard of morals. They’ll do any­thing for a few ex­tra bucks!”

He claims to know well the young woman he’d been talk­ing with min­utes ear­lier, as well as her par­ents. “Good peo­ple,” he says. “I re­mem­ber see­ing them two or three years ago in church with their young daugh­ter, be­fore she got her bank job and the re­ces­sion took her par­ents out of their sales busi­ness. It would kill them to know what Bub­bles does on the side.”

It’s al­most 11.30 p.m. when the girl re-en­ters the ho­tel lobby on black pin heels. She has on an or­ange skirt that she would not dare stoop in, not in pub­lic, any­way. Her hair is now freshly coiffed, her breasts par­tially con­tained in a pur­ple Benet­ton blouse. She waves in the di­rec­tion of the re­cep­tion desk. The se­cu­rity man smiles, waves back, eyes fixed on her barely con­tained, un­du­lat­ing booty as she slides into the pas­sen­ger seat of the re­turned grey Audi. As the car pulls away, the se­cu­rity of­fi­cer turns his at­ten­tion to the well-dressed, older gen­tle­man emerg­ing from the ho­tel el­e­va­tor.

“What Bub­bles sees in that man, I don’t know,” he mum­bles. “His wal­let, I sup­pose! Ev­ery Fri­day evening he ar­rives like clock­work. Then a few min­utes later, she does. In my day . . .” He shrugs and walks to­ward the gen­tle­man who hands him an en­ve­lope and then heads to­ward the park­ing lot.

Com­ment­ing on pros­ti­tu­tion in 2013 Saint Lucia’s then po­lice com­mis­sioner, Ver­non Fran­cois, said: “It’s not easy com­bat­ing it. It re­mains a se­ri­ous chal­lenge, but we re­main com­mit­ted to deal­ing with it. We are hop­ing that we can work with gov­ern­ment agen­cies in deal­ing with pros­ti­tu­tion.” Mr. Fran­cois’ state­ment fol­lowed ear­lier of­fi­cial re­ports that lo­cal pros­ti­tu­tion was on the in­crease, and in­cluded chil­dren and hu­man traf­fick­ing.

Ad­dress­ing the is­sue just days later, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Hu­man Ser­vices Depart­ment blamed the in­crease on ram­pant un­em­ploy­ment, the cost of liv­ing and lack of op­por­tu­nity for self-im­prove­ment.

Two years later, lit­tle has changed. As the cost of liv­ing con­tin­ues to es­ca­late, so does pros­ti­tu­tion, with even the em­ployed, such as Bub­bles, sell­ing their bod­ies to make ends meet. Con­sider the plight of a 32-year-old we’ll call Karen: “I have been em­ployed for prac­ti­cally all my work­ing life. My first job was at a fast food restau­rant. Next I was a cashier and then I moved into the ho­tel sec­tor.” She says she has been em­ployed at the same ho­tel for the past eight years. She has two boys aged two and six, “but I am not with ei­ther of their fa­thers.” The first left when she told him she was preg­nant with her first child. Her sec­ond re­la­tion­ship, through which she had her sec­ond son, was “just hope­less, it didn’t work.”

She had her­self grown up with­out a fa­ther. He walked out soon af­ter he dis­cov­ered he was about to be­come a par­ent. “When my mom went to work,” Karen re­calls, “I would be alone with my younger sib­lings. I would leave the house as soon as she re­turned from work, just to get some fresh air. I had to study for school, take care of the chil­dren and clean the house, though usu­ally my mother cooked be­fore she set out. I met the fa­ther of my sec­ond son one night when I was out there lim­ing with a couple of girl friends I knew from school days.”

Her mother had Karen late. She is now 64, un­at­tached and un­em­ployed. It’s left to Karen to pay util­ity bills and buy gro­ceries. She also cares for her mother. “I work six days a week,” she says, “and the money doesn’t go very far. Af­ter I pay the more ur­gent bills, there’s noth­ing left for my boys or me and my mother has this blood pres­sure prob­lem. It’s not some­thing I want to do. God knows I am a hard­work­ing woman. But what other choice do I have? I have to! My other sib­lings are still in school and there is no one to take care of my mother and, like I said, she has high blood pres­sure.”

Karen dreams of go­ing back to school to study cos­me­tol­ogy “so I can open up my own beauty salon.” Un­til then, there’s re­al­ity. “I meet guys who are at­tracted to me. They in­vite me out. Some know well the pres­sures I am un­der, so they make me of­fers I can­not refuse, even though do­ing so makes me sick. That’s how I man­age to pay my bills, take care of my mom. I am very thank­ful I don’t have a daugh­ter. I would hate her to have to live this way, or to be with a man she doesn’t love, just so she and her fam­ily can eat. I get so very de­pressed at times.”

Then there’s Donna: “I have a boyfriend I love very much. I live alone and he has a room­mate. He has his own com­mit­ments: monthly child sup­port for his kids and the usual bills. Some­times he’ll ask if I need any­thing. Most times I say I am all right when I’m not. He be­lieves me be­cause I do bak­ing on the side. But busi­ness is slow, es­pe­cially th­ese days. I work at a su­per­mar­ket but can barely pay my rent.

“I am 26, I like to go out and have fun, enjoy my­self, you know, just to free up. I am see­ing an­other man on the side, an older guy. But he is mar­ried with kids. Of course my boyfriend has no clue. I dread what would hap­pen if he should learn the truth.”

So much for the promised bet­ter days that were sup­posed to start in 2012. If only those who promised had been truth­ful enough to iden­tify the ve­hi­cle by which the bet­ter days would ar­rive; and it shouldn’t be a grey Audi!

Things may be bad with sev­eral busi­nesses th­ese days but for some women busi

ness is boom­ing, al­though not in a way they would pre­fer shout­ing about.

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