Legalize prostitution, says Professor

Legalize prostitution.

That was the advice to Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean from social scientist Dr Kamala Kempadoo.

The Professor in the Department of Social Science at York University in Canada last night argued that legitimizing the world’s oldest profession would reduce human trafficking and bring security and respectability to women in the profession.

Kempadoo, who delivered the Sir Arthur Lewis Distinguished Lecture on Who is Trafficking What? – The Caribbean and Human Tafficking Discourse, contended that most of the region’s laws against trafficking in people unfairly targeted women in the sex trade.

She called on regional governments to take a second look at their definition of human trafficking and sexual slavery, and recognize that prostitution ought not automatically be construed as violence to women or enslavement.

“The decriminalization of prostitution would go a long way towards making the sex trade a safer place to work,” she told her audience at the Frank Collymore Hall.

The specialist in Caribbean and transnational feminism and sexuality studies admitted that the issue was a controversial one, but stressed that legalization of the sex trade, “could eliminate underhand deals, it could eliminate extortions, false promises, the criminalisation of sex workers by immigration, smuggling of persons. It could eliminate shady businesses and it could allow working women to gain access to state protection, health care and rights as any other citizen or legal migrant”.

Kempadoo, who was born in the United Kingdom to Guyanese parents, advised: “We need more complex conceptualizations to sexual labour, and of the ways in which women participate in sexual economic activities; as well as more critical examinations of ideologies about sexuality in order to dispel the moral indignation and stigma that surrounds sexual economic relations.”

In her presentation, the social scientist was dismissive of the United States State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports, contending that they were politically motivated and did not recognize Caribbean practices or cultural norms.

She was particularly peeved at the impact on women of anti-trafficking laws enacted by Caribbean governments in their quest to adjust to the TIP reports.

“The rhetoric and practice of anti-trafficking need to be exposed for the violence it visits on marginalized communities, particularly young and migrant women,” she said, while suggesting that in its place, there should be reliance on already existing labour laws, health and safety regulations and human rights legislation.

Among the existing conventions she cited were the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, both of which Barbados has ratified.

Kempadoo charged that in responding to the pressure exerted on regional countries that receive bad marks in the TIP reports, Caribbean governments had created a regime to counter what they saw as human trafficking. However, she said that regime had itself become an industry.

“Who benefit from the anti-trafficking industry that is being created? Whose interest does it serve? Is anti-trafficking creating more trafficking by trying to keep people in states of unfreedom (sic), denying the possibility of making a better living for themselves, preventing them from employing their sexual labour in ways that benefit them the most; keeping them locked in poverty and inequality forcing them to stay at home, go underground limiting women’s autonomy?”

She admitted that she did not have the answers, “but I do know the problems involving forced labour, illegal migration, or sex work are not new and their causes are much bigger than can be tackled through anti-trafficking programmes”.

She also advised that it was important to clearly determine who was really involved in trafficking in order to chart “viable freedoms” in the Caribbean. (GA)

11 Responses to Legalize prostitution, says Professor

  1. jrsmith April 1, 2016 at 5:25 am

    See what is going on , everybody becomes an expert on the region , why legalize this and that and we should turn right instead of left.. wait up , we are suppose to be educated ..
    When all of these clever people is going to get together and come up with an economic formula to pull the region of the floor..

  2. seagul April 1, 2016 at 6:17 am

    This is alarming shocking and sad. Where is the respectability in slavery. Our moral integrity is not for sale miss professor. This is legalizing corruption. Having learnt the first hand harrowing experienced from a soul buddy who was kidnapped at 13 yrs old and forced to be a captive prostitute in her native Colombia. To feel the pain of that woman is something awful you don’t forget–absolute terror. We’ are placing commercial interest above the dignity of our sons and daughters…….. is this the road we want to go down.

  3. Carson C Cadogan April 1, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Thanks but no thanks for your advice.

  4. Donild Trimp April 1, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Another educated fool bringing her liberalized North American philosophy to Barbados.

    Just the other day there was this former IMF official who admitted having no expertise about Barbados giving a gobbledygook speech to Barbadians about the economic future of Barbados.

    Who is responsible for inviting these people to speak on such issues?

    Professor Kempadoo take your liberal ideas back to Toronto and leave Barbados out of your nonsense.

    • Junior King April 1, 2016 at 1:19 pm

      Does Barbados enforce any laws against prostitution?

  5. Alex Alleyne April 1, 2016 at 10:25 am

    First “certificate” will be handed to you.

  6. lester April 1, 2016 at 11:35 am

    “Much learning make thee mad” Miss Professor.
    Do you know what women have to go through being prostitutes? As far as i am concern prostituition is an evil against women. Women in Barbados are not a commodity go back where you come from, Prostituition is likened to the trans atlantic slave trade.

  7. Cecil P April 1, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    excuse me why don’t u legalize it @ the north pole. leave the south pole alone end of story

  8. Sherlock Holmes. April 2, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Just taking a look at her tells it all,some of these so called educated persons really believe that we in the Caribbean are silly people, i hope that she was not brought here by paid passage to spew such drivel,utter nonsense.


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