Prostitution totally unacceptable says Minister Browne
April 21, 2006
Prostitution totally unacceptable says Minister Browne

Minister with responsibility for Family Affairs, the Hon. Michael Browne is adamant that the Government and his ministry in particular, would fight any push for the legalization or unofficial encouragement of prostitution in St Vincent and the Grenadines. “We are concerned about the negative shifts in the family and so we are determined to strengthen the family unit.” He said that “any green light, no matter the shade of green, to prostitution and connected activities will work counter to the Government’s policy and vision. That will be totally unacceptable.”{{more}}

Browne was responding to comments made at a CSME business forum held last Thursday April 13, at the Sherbourne Conference Centre in Barbados. CARICOM’s deputy programme manager Timothy Odle told of CARICOM’s plan to register and license all classes of professionals offering services, including prostitutes.

Referring to them as “social hostesses, Odle said that proposed CARICOM legislation will facilitate the free movement of professionals within CSME. That includes “all persons who provide services, be that person an undertaker – we call them an embalmer; be that person a social hostess – we probably call them prostitutes, we see them as providing services based on the classification system that we have…”

Although very much an underground activity, prostitution is apparently a thriving business in St Vincent and the Grenadines, even though there are no recorded arrests and conviction for the offence. Reliable police sources informed the SEARCHLIGHT that even though the police are aware of various establishments that encourage the prostitution trade, it is difficult to prove, hence no action is usually taken.

For there to be a successful prosecution, it has to be proven that money is exchanged for the sexual service and outside of the use of entrapment, this is virtually impossible, our sources explained. In the US, police officers can use entrapment to nab prostitutes.

Over the last couple of years, various night clubs have been shut down when it was found that striptease or exotic dancing was included as part of their entertainment package. One nightclub in the North Windward area was raided and operations brought to a halt as recently as last year.

Last year several young ladies from the Dominican Republic were denied entry into the country after failing give proper reasons for their visit. Reliable information suggests that they were exotic dancers.

Searchlight spoke to Kingsley Duncan, executive Director of Planned Parenthood in St Vincent and the Grenadines who also confirmed that the trade is very much alive here, but is operating unorganized and underground.

Duncan told SEARCHLIGHT that as part of a project he was doing in November, 2004 he had to contact and interview some Commercial Sex Workers (CSM’s) and was able to speak to a few. Among them were young, single mothers, party girls (by their own admission) and others on drugs. Duncan expressed concern for those involved in this trade. “As it is illegal and they operate underground, they are most at risk for diseases and injury” stated Duncan, who said that his organization is seeking to act as gatekeepers for such persons.

It was interesting to note that the project was conducted in several other Caribbean territories including Antigua. Information reaching the SEARCHLIGHT is that there are “entertainment clubs” that are allowed to operate undisturbed there as part of the tourism package. So even though the law books cite prostitution as an illegal activity, a blind eye is turned in that country.

In response to the possible loopholes in prosecuting such cases identified by the police, Minister Browne promised to initiate discussions with the Attorney General about it. He also said that when information reached him and his colleagues concerning exotic dancing at a particular nightclub that the police were contacted and instructed to deal with it urgently.