Ipol reports prostitution in ten hotels and dance clubs

POSTED: 01/16/12 12:57 PM

St. Maarten – At least ten hotels and dance clubs in St. Maarten are facilitating prostitution, the Ipol crime analysis report states. “Usually the owners of these establishments have a permit for exotic dancers.” Next to these hotels and dance clubs there are eight legal whorehouses on the island.

The authors, Sally Mesu and Ewout Stoffers, note that the illegal brothels simply circumvent the law. “Exotic dancers are scantily dressed and they are available to drink something with clients. At the bar they make a sex-date and then the woman goes to a room that the client has rented.”

The authors note that the establishment’s owner is “seemingly” not to blame for this form of prostitution, because he runs a hotel or a dance club and he employs a dancer who accompanies a client at his request to a room he rents. “But the client has to pay the owner for the time the dancer remains in the hotel room, because she is unable to work as a dancer during that period. The question is whether the owner is violating his permit or that he is an accessory to unlawful prostitution.”

The report refers to a strip club in Dutch Quarter (the Players Club – ed.) that up to a couple of years ago also engaged in prostitution. Its owner sexually exploited the women who worked there and was accused of raping them; the court acquitted owner Leroy Richardson in 2008 to 36 months on charges of human smuggling, deprivation of liberty and ill-treatment, but acquitted him of the rape charges.

Respondents who contributed to the report suspect that most of the exploitation in the local sex industry takes place in the approximately ten hotels and dance clubs that facilitate prostitution and to a lesser extent in the regulated whorehouses. “The brothels with a permit are potentially subject to controls and therefore operate more carefully,” sources said. At the same time, they note that supervision over the industry is so limited that the approximately 160 prostitutes that work there are exposed to different levels of exploitation.

The report notes that several investigations by the police into reports about locking up prostitutes and ill-treatment ‘seemed to be confused with the choice of prostitutes to let themselves be locked up, because they usually live and work in the same space. They want to protect themselves against unwanted visitors by locking their door or letting their door be locked.”

Most of the prostitutes working in St. Maarten are from the Dominican Republic and Colombia; others come from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, the United States and Eastern Europe.

The report refers to a twelve-year old investigation into prostitution in St. Maarten by Benoit and state that the picture that emerges from that survey about the brothels still seems to be valid today: “They are buildings of different sizes, some of which are seriously deteriorated, and appear sordid and murky. All of them have a large hall where shows are staged either on a dance floor or on the bar counter, and where men can play pool or watch films. Woman can ignore the men by staying in groups and playing table football in a corner or they can try to seduce men by inviting them to drink as much as possible. The rooms are small and similarly furnished and resemble prison cells. They are set to the back of the bar or in the basement. They spend their days and nights in cells aligned along a corridor behind the bar, vulnerable to the brutality of their clients and to the financial demands of their employers. Depending on the house, women pay their rent, their food and a percentage of their tricks.”

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