Faced with a ban on sex toys, sellers have vowed not to take it lying down.
Yesterday, several courier companies sent out e-mail alerts to their customers to tell them there was a list of items they could not import, or they will be seized by the Customs and Excise Division. Adult toys are at the top of that list.
Newsday tried several times yesterday to reach the Comptroller of Customs and Customs Communications Department without success. Finance Minister Colm Imbert, under whose ministry Customs falls, could not be reached either. Calls to the cellphone of National Security Minister Stuart Young went unanswered, and police communications manager Ellen Lewis declined to comment.
One courier, SeaBox, in its e-mail to customers, quoted Section 46(g) of the Criminal Offences Act which says: “Any person who offers for sale or distribution or who exhibits to public view any profane, indecent, or obscene, paper, print, drawing, painting or representation may be deemed a rogue and a vagabond and if found liable, to imprisonment for two years.”
In its e-mail, WebSource said, “Please note that Customs will be inspecting all packages to ensure compliance with laws. As such, they can and will seize the items listed below and other prohibited items.”
In addition to a complete ban on all adult toys, citizens are also banned from importing camouflage-patterned clothing, shoes, game controllers, headphones or any item with a camouflage pattern. Honey, cigarettes, tobacco, tobacco products, plants, soil and toy guns are also prohibited. Those wanting to import seeds and holsters must have permits to do so. Both companies noted that this list was not an exhaustive one. Ganesh Maharaj, the owner of Wicked Intentions, said the sudden announcement of a ban has left him and other business people confused. “I have been in this business for about five years, and this is the first I am hearing about a ban on adult toys,” Maharaj said. “If this ban is real, then I’ll have to look for another source of income, which means I will be unemployed in this economy.”
Maharaj said in the past, Customs officers have seized some of his items and he had to accept the loss. “Most companies abroad allow you to return the product if Customs won’t allow it in the country, but Customs (here) doesn’t give you back the product to return. You can’t even see the item once they seize it, it is very advantageous.”
Maharaj said in addition to pleasure, customers also request adult toys to use as a form of therapy and to maintain safe sexual relationships. Another business owner, who runs Santa’s Toys Trinidad, said she has been able to make a living by selling adult toys for the past eight years.
“It started off slow, because I had to build clientele, but sex toys are very high in demand in this country. A lot of people want to experiment and want a safe way to do so. This allows them that,” she said.
She has been talking with other business owners, she said, and they do not intend to quietly accept this ban. “We are not going to sit down and let the authorities take away our livelihoods without a second thought. A lot of single mothers depend on this type of business to take care of themselves and their families. We are not prepared to take this lying down,” she said.