Human trafficking solution?
THE EDITOR: The despicable act of human trafficking is one of the four dreads in our local space that we keep avoiding until politics chews it and spits it to the side for another day. The conversation of decriminalising or legalising prostitution may become an option waiting to be explored.
Legalising tobacco use has not stopped the illegal importation and use of the product. Neither has legislation governing the National Lotteries Control Board stopped the proliferation and continued support of illegal gambling. The American Prohibition years against alcohol from 1920 to 1933 just sent a billion-dollar industry underground until the act was repealed.
Locally, we decriminalised insignificant amounts of marijuana use and never expected the drug trafficking trade to go away. Legislation governing the sale of sex will never stop sex trafficking in TT. In fact, it has not stopped the cruel business in any part of the world.
What over 50 countries have done is set frameworks from legalising to decriminalising, to soft measures in controlled environments to curb or regulate, which in turn becomes a monitoring tool for sex trafficking. Let us examine some countries.
Germany has legalised prostitution where sex workers pay taxes and are entitled to all benefits including state pensions. In 2016, the Prostitutes Protection Act increased enforcement of all benefits. Denmark has gone further and even gives individuals with a disability a stipend to hire a sex worker.
New Zealand, since 2003, has licensed brothels operating under public health and employment laws. Here sex workers get every social benefit that state employees get. Australian laws differs from state to state.
In Austria you must be 19 and older. In Bangladesh only male prostitution is illegal; brothels and pimping are legal. A 12 per cent reduction in HIV was reported by the World Health Organization in 2012 for sex workers negotiating safer sex.
Kenya is considered to have the largest sex tourism on the continent. Ivory Coast and Senegal permit the operation of brothels. The Netherlands, famous for its Red Light District, is a model many nations use. Witnessing a brothel next to a church was difficult to fathom, but it is the reality of having a society regulated.
In 2017, a study found that the introduction of legal prostitution zones in the Netherlands reduced drug-related crime and sexual abuse by 30 to 40 per cent. [American Economic Journal Policy Street Prostitution Zones and Crime pg 28 to 63].
Closer to home, in Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Brazil it is legal. It was amazing to be in three Brazilian cities in which the five-star hotels all had magazines next to the hotel menu at the bedside advertising the services you can access.
The Dominican Republic, being the fourth largest exporter of prostitutes globally, had 8.5 million tourists in 2022.
This global country listing is far from complete, but it gives an insight as to the development of societies around the world and decriminalising or legalising can have a positive effect on this scourge.
It is interesting to note the 2021 study, The Effect of Adult Entertainment on Sex Crimes. Evidence from New York City in the Economic Journal Policy, pg 147-198, shows that strip clubs, escort girl services, etc were associated with a 12 per cent reduction in the geographic area. Empirical evidence suggests sex offenders frequent such establishments rather than commit such crimes.
We at a juncture where the individuals Keith, Kamla, Fitzgerald and Erla sit together on a Sunday with their decriminalised blunt and seriously but relaxingly look at ways to address human trafficking. A regulated industry has positive benefits. Conversation for another day.
"Human trafficking solution?"