Our Readers' Opinions
May 12, 2006

Should oldest profession be legalized?

Editor: Do you think that prostitution should be legalized? This discussion or argument is presently being addressed by member states of CARICOM.

With the advent of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) member states are looking at the various classes of services in the region, and reached a stumbling block when the issue was raised. In fact a Minister of Family Affairs in one of the Caricom states said prostitution is unacceptable and should not be legalized or encouraged. In fact the views of Minister Michael Brown of St. Vincent is shared by several other government officials.{{more}}

CARICOM’s deputy programme manager Timothy Odle said that the move is being considered with the sole purpose of improving quality and ensuring that the consumer is not compromised by poor service and dangerous service.

Vernon Daley, a well known Barbadian journalist, feels that “if prostitution is left underground, where its main practitioners are young, uneducated girls with little prospects, then we could see a continuing spread of the deadly HIV/AIDS epidemic, which already has the region against the ropes.”

Prostitution is legal in Germany, Holland and a few other European states and the “call girls” are required to register and be checked by a doctor every week to ensure that they are not infected by sexual transmitted diseases. They are also required to pay income tax.

Since Odle’s disclosure, there has been heated debate in the region whether or not “the ladies of the night” should be registered and licenced. There are sound arguments on both sides. The proponent contends that the profession is the oldest and can never be eliminated, and it is safer to regulate it in such a manner as to prevent the spread of infectious and deadly diseases, which puts a burden on the public health system and will ultimately be a great expense for the taxpayers.

In fact, although prostitution is illegal, the sex business is being conducted openly and in full scale in nearly all the Caribbean countries especially Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and to a lesser extent Barbados, and the authorities are not taking any steps to prosecute the owners of the “prostitute houses” or the “social hostesses” as defined by the Caricom deputy programme manager.

On the other hand, the opponents argue that it is morally wrong for governments to legitimize wrongful sexual acts, and to affix the stamp of approval to sexual behaviour would encourage young girls to join the profession rather than to pursue other careers.

Remember, one of the ten commandments states that “thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Journalist Daley made a sound point when he wrote “there are many things in society which do not constitute the healthiest habits, but which we have removed from the clutches of the law. Tobacco smoking is an example.”

Oscar Ramjeet