The International Wages for Housework Campaign, and the International Women's Count Network, is calling for the abolition of Prostitution Laws. We call for Legal, Civil and Economic rights for prostitute women in Trinidad and Tobago. Women are divided by the prostitution laws and are vulnerable before these laws. Those who enforce them take advantage of the fact that the prostitutes are outcast. And other women are not particular about what happens to them. The laws and the people who enforce them are without the restraints of the communities concerns, and they are able to dominate your life.
The twenty-three (23) prostitute women who have been arrested for prostitution by police officers two weeks aback it was stated that they were charged with soliciting for the purpose of prostitution. The plight of these prostitute women and their frequent harassment have given us great concern as there are no laws to protect them in their means of sustenance and no support coming from other women's organization. Our organization cannot stand aloof to watch our women folk subjected to such a dejected and degraded position and remain silence, leaving injustice to go unchallenged.
We demand for the implementation of a UN Convention which uphold "Sex workers’ rights",which makes visible every women's situation and contribution to the society.
Once there are ‘special laws’ which segregate any group form the rest, equality before the law is negated. We want all women to be protected. For example, the rape of wives is not illegal de jure - and the rape of prostitute women is not illegal de facto. The prostitution laws are not about protecting women but about persecuting and controlling and dividing women.
It was stated in the Newspaper that five women were charged with loitering for the purpose of prostitution and another eighteen women were arrested and charged with soliciting for the purpose of prostitution.
a. You can be picked up for soliciting and loitering for the purposes of prostitution if the police say you were seen offering sexual services for a fee.
b. For example, if a woman in the street asked a man --- will you sleep with me? - that is perfectly legal. -- but if he says yes and she tells him that it will cost $40.00 that is against the law.
When you are arrested you can brought to Court and convicted on the word of a single police officer for a prostitution offence. As with the ‘sus’ laws, the police need no witness and no complainant. It is their word against that of a ‘common prostitute’.
Poverty forces many mothers into prostitution to feed their children and themselves. At the same time statistics can prove that low paid jobs cannot take out women from poverty. With the massive growth in prostitution whether open or secret the chaos prevailing. We want all women to be protected form the violence of individual men, in prostitution, as well as in marriage. Everywhere women are central to survival. We feed raise and look after all the workers of the world. We also do the work of defending low paid workers and our loved ones from discrimination and injustices. These prostitute women should not be punished for trying to put food on the table for their children.
The MP Eric Williams should be ashamed for attacking prostitute women and calling on the authorities to increase the penalties for prostitution. The MP Eric Williams said that he was pleased with the police action. His role in parliament is to address the problems facing the country. Vulnerability to violence is already a major problem that prostitute women face and they should not be treated as criminals in calling for the draconian legislation.
8 May 2001