Opinion: Prostitution: deal with it

POSTED: 09/2/11 11:53 AM

The raid at the Border Bar makes, irrelevant of the outcome of the criminal investigation, something clear that everybody knows and that few people are prepared to take action against. While moral crusaders will defend their opposition to prostitution until they die, the eldest profession in the world is simply a fact of life – and we have to deal with it.
If ever there was a strong argument for legalizing prostitution, the raid at the Border Bar is it. We remember all too well how the owner of the Player’s Club in Dutch Quarter was dragged into court for ill-treating the prostitutes who were working there. We also remember that a couple of years ago a prostitute was murdered in Le Petit Chateau on Pond Island. Plenty of crime occurs in and around local brothels.
Most girls who work in these places are forced into the seedy sex business out of sheer poverty. Others are the victims of ruthless traders in girls and women. As long as there is a demand – and there always will be – brothels will never go out of business.
The churches have an obvious opinion about prostitution, but that opinion does not have any practical value. It is easy to choose the moral high ground, say that prostitution is evil and that it shouldn’t be allowed. Many people would get tired of this after, say, two thousand years without getting any results.
So here we are: it is about time to legalize prostitution. Will that, as some want to make people believe, result in more prostitution? Absolutely not.
Legalizing a business sector means that the government has the authority to set conditions. The government will be able to control the number of permits it gives for brothels. It will be able to control the number of legal prostitutes that work at any given moment in St. Maarten.
But most important of all, the government will be able to dictate the working conditions in these places. It will also be able to subject the working girls to obligatory health controls.
There are many upsides to legalization – which is taking things one step beyond keeping prostitution officially illegal and condoning it in practice.
In the Netherlands, municipalities found themselves in a quandary for decades because prostitution was illegal yet condoned. It made it impossible for local regulators to act against prostitution in places where they really did not want it. After all, it is a bit awkward when governments or municipalities start regulating something that is illegal.

But …..
But this is St. Maarten. We’re always ready to give our esteemed parliamentarians another chance to prove that they understand issues that really matter. The choice in this field is, like with abortion and euthanasia, between realism and hypocrisy.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer, at least that’s what we think, but some politicians have a tendency to think more about the next elections than about practical solutions.

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