Opinion: Words do hurt

POSTED: 05/16/12 1:06 PM

Words do hurt but the truth has never hurt anybody – or so they say. It is always endearing to see very important people show up for politically correct occasions, like the revealing of Safe Haven’s bill board in St. Peters yesterday. These events need the presence of prime ministers and others in high office to give them a sense of importance.
And that’s just it: the work that foundations like Safe Haven are doing on our island is extremely important. And the hardworking people in this foundation do not exactly crave attention – they do their work behind the scenes. What they do crave is support. Action.
The same goes for the people foundations like Safe Haven help. They are looking towards their government to do something. Just showing up for an occasion is not going to cut it.
Let’s clarify this with a simple example. The task of our parliamentarians is to approve legislation and to make sure that the government sticks to what has been agreed upon. The government is executing these laws and it has a whole apparatus at its disposal to put theory into practice.
Unfortunately, that is where a lot of things go wrong – or worse – they just don’t happen.
Look for instance at our country’s State Regulation, aka the Constitution. In chapter 2, article 4, it holds the following promise to all citizens: “No one may be held in slavery; no one may undertake hard labor or forced labor, otherwise than in the form of community service; trafficking of people is prohibited.”
Sounds good, right?
Now let’s have a look at the country’s prostitution policy. On page 17 of this document, the government highlights the position of prostitutes. “Most women are aware of the purpose of their trip to St. Maarten. But about the working and living circumstances nothing is told to them in advance. It can be noted that this is trafficking of women.”
The policy paper then gives a definition of trafficking in women, something that is, based on article 4 of the constitution, prohibited.
That women are treated unfairly in local brothels is an understatement. We all know from the Angel Priest trial that prostitutes, mainly from the Dominican Republic, end up in a form of modern slavery that is not only condoned, but also persistently ignored by ministers and parliamentarians – the first ones who ought to step up to the plate the make sure the constitution is followed to the letter.
This makes the appearance of politicians at the revealing of a billboard against domestic violence so hypocritical. On the one hand their presence seems to send a positive message: we’re on the same page. Of course we are against domestic violence. But when push comes to shove, politicians always have better things to do.
So while we are on the same page with the Safe Haven foundation, we sure wish that the words in this article do hurt and even better: that they inspire at least one politician to take action where action is so obviously and badly needed.

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