St. Lu­cia’s no-fu­ture kids on the streets!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ramia Thomas

‘ It's not that they want a man to whisk them ‘ off and marry them.

There's a lo­cal say­ing (heard most of­ten at bars) that in St. Lu­cia the only cheap com­modi­ties are ice—and women. While this may only be half true, after all ice is just water that can be frozen in your re­frig­er­a­tor, the line is dis­turb­ing. How does an in­no­cent lit­tle baby girl made of sugar and spice and all things nice de­velop into a cheap woman? You might also ask: What ex­actly is a cheap woman? Isn't hu­man traf­fick­ing a crime?

What is it that changes a girl full of ambition, over­flow­ing with dreams for her fu­ture, into a crea­ture shunned even by for­mer school­mates? Ac­cord­ing to a 2008 study on Ca­sual Sex pub­lished on Fox News.com, men lower their stan­dards in the in­ter­ests of one-night­stands. As for women, cu­ri­ously re­searcher Anne Camp­bell, a psy­chol­o­gist at Durham Univer­sity in Eng­land says: “Women are not well adapted to promis­cu­ity.” The morn­ing after a one-night stand, she states in her June 2016 re­port, women pre­dom­i­nantly felt re­gret, cheap, hor­ri­fied and de­graded. Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, most women do not con­sider ca­sual sex a pre­lude to a long-term re­la­tion­ship.

"It's not that they want a man to whisk them off and marry them," Camp­bell told Live Sci­ence. "Of­ten they wanted to con­vince him they weren't nor­mally loose; they were do­ing it for him on this night as a par­tic­u­lar event."

So, is that why so many men con­sider women cheap? Does it ap­pear to them that women are so starved of love that they will­ingly en­gage in one-night stands and other relationships, hav­ing con­vinced them­selves they are be­ing neigh­borly? Why do we feel the need to as­so­ciate with men whose only in­ter­est is to find out what's in our jeans?

Could the an­swer lie in the way young girls are brought up? Might poor parenting and poor hous­ing be con­trib­u­tory fac­tors? How about peer pres­sure? Is there some­thing in par­tic­u­lar that sets young girls off on the wrong track? I am re­minded of a tru­ism: As the twig is bent so the tree in­clines.

Of course, the price men pay for their in­dis­cre­tions hardly com­pares with what women must en­dure. So­ci­ety en­sures that. More of­ten than not young girls in dire cir­cum­stances end up preg­nant, of­ten with no idea who might be their im­preg­na­tor. Too many times mis­guided par­ents throw them out to the dogs, with­out a roof over their heads, with­out sup­port, psy­cho­log­i­cal and oth­er­wise. How do they sur­vive? Who pro­vides shel­ter, food and other ne­ces­si­ties? At what cost?

As the more for­tu­nate among us go about our daily business, con­sumed by our own lives, we barely no­tice the des­per­ate faces that ap­pear far older than their true age. I spoke over the last week to four such young women in dis­tress. They agreed to talk with me on con­di­tion of anonymity.

We'll call the first Lisa; she is 24 and a mother of three young kids. She is also a pros­ti­tute. She told me, in the same tone she might've used if talk­ing about the weather: “My first child was taken from me by his fa­ther. When I met the fa­ther of my other two chil­dren he con­vinced me I should sell my­self for money. He would be my pimp. We live at his fam­ily's home. They don't treat me too nicely, even though they don't know what I do so we can have some­thing to eat!”

Lisa is barely lit­er­ate. And of course she is oth­er­wise un­em­ployed. Her boyfriend- pimp drops her off at wher­ever her client ex­pects to be served, then picks her up after she has de­liv­ered.

Some­times he in­tro­duces Lisa to for­eign visi­tors. “I pre­tend I have my own place and in­vite them to come with me.” Too late, her client will learn he has been set up. From out of nowhere, a man will emerge from the dark with a knife or a gun and re­lieve him of all his money, jew­ellery and what­ever else of value he may be car­ry­ing. A num­ber of times my boyfriend has beaten me be­cause I had not earned enough. Sev­eral times he would beat me all the way from Rod­ney Bay to where we live.”

Then there is Sandy. One night she joined two Span­ish guys she had met at a bar not far from Gros Islet. To­gether they went to the Fri­day Night Street Party, no strings at­tached. Her com­pan­ions shared their drugs with her, served her lots of al­co­hol. Ev­ery­one was hav­ing a good time. But the night ended badly. Very badly. When Sandy re­fused to ac­com­mo­date their sex­ual ad­vances, the two men, both full of booze, turned like sav­ages on her.

One of the men forced her mouth open, so ag­gres­sively, he split the cor­ners. They punched and kicked her all over, tore off her clothes, aban­doned her. Said Sandy, again ever so ca­su­ally, “I went home in only my panties and bra.”

Wendy, 18, grew up almost on her own. Her mother was too busy mind­ing her sev­eral other sib­lings. “When I was twelve,” she told me, “I went to a birth­day party at a girl­friend's house.” She still can­not say for cer­tain de­tails of ev­ery­thing that hap­pened. But one thing she'll never for­get. “I was gan­graped. I sus­pect some­one put some­thing in my drink. I woke up cov­ered in se­men!”

It gets worse: two weeks later Wendy dis­cov­ered she was preg­nant; fa­ther un­known. Fol­low­ing her baby's birth the young mother set out to find a man who cared enough to take care of her and her child. Her self-es­teem, as she put it, had died on the floor where she had been rav­aged. Almost every male she en­coun­tered af­ter­ward was handed the keys to her gar­den.

Fi­nally her mother put her foot down. If she was go­ing to do what she did every night with so many men, she ad­vised her daugh­ter, “then you might as well get paid for your ser­vices.” Sandy has been a pros­ti­tute on and off for at least four years.

This week I bumped into 21-year-old Anna at the Bay­walk shop­ping mall, her young baby cra­dled in her arms. “My lady,” she half-whis­pered, “could you help me with some money? I need to buy a pack of pam­pers.”

I in­vited her to join me at a nearby cof­fee shop. Soon she was telling me the story of her short life. She had been un­able to write her CXC ex­ams; her mother could not af­ford the fees, around $500. Shortly after she dropped out of se­condary school, Anna be­came in­volved with an un­em­ployed young man from Den­nery. The re­sult was in­no­cently asleep on her shoul­der.

Anna said she had re­ported her baby's errant fa­ther sev­eral times to so­cial wel­fare but noth­ing had come of it. Mean­while baby had to be fed . . . baby needed pam­pers, medicine. Re­cently Anna had hooked up with a Ras­ta­man, more for mu­tual com­fort than any­thing else. He, too, was un­em­ployed. She had lit­tle choice, this young, at­trac­tive and pleas­ant young woman, but to beg from to­tal strangers, even at night. Especially for young women, a most pre­car­i­ous ac­tiv­ity nowa­days.

As earlier noted, the names have been changed to spare the fea­tured un­for­tu­nates fur­ther em­bar­rass­ment. Hope­fully, my story will give the au­thor­i­ties cause for pause. After all, theirs are the sto­ries of thou­sands of other young women and men the length and breadth of our coun­try!

Each week a fresh set of faces ap­pear in the Rod­ney Bay area. Beg­ging ran­dom passersby for money to pur­chase one thing or an­other. Whether it be to supply their ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties, to feed their young or to cater to ole vices, they all pick Rod­ney Bay as the prime lo­ca­tion to ap­proach those who seem to be keep­ing afloat dur­ing th­ese try­ing fi­nan­cial times.

How prof­itable is beg­ging? Why has it be­come so com­mon among the youth?

Well, if a per­son gets as lit­tle as a dol­lar from a hun­dred peo­ple will­ing to part with small change, a com­mit­ted beg­gar can ac­tu­ally make a pretty de­cent in­come in a day. Bet­ter than many peo­ple work­ing a nine-to-five. So hav­ing done the maths, is it pos­si­ble that pros­ti­tu­tion and beg­ging are the best means for our youth to earn an in­come? Con­sid­er­ing the lack of jobs avail­able, especially to those who have not any CXC's or a de­gree, per­haps this is the only way they can ac­tu­ally sur­vive. What does that say about us?

Rod­ney Bay is now a pop­u­lar spot for per­sons seek­ing mone­tary as­sis­tance, but have we no­ticed the beg­gars are pri­mar­ily kids?

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