An update to the brothel blog of a few days ago.
In addition to her photographs and the comments to them, Ms Soncini has published an article on brothels in Anguilla. I invite you to read it by clicking on the link. Then, click on the tab in the left-hand margin, “English Version of Published Article.” It is very instructional.
Since I published my article on brothels in Anguilla, I have been getting feedback. One Jamaican lady in the bank line with me this morning mentioned that Pam Webster brought up the matter of my article in some recent meeting of the House of Assembly. According to the lady, Victor protested that (a) most of the article was not true; and (b) he saw nothing wrong with prostitution, as it existed everywhere and at all times. I don’t know, I did not hear the broadcast.
Of course, my article was not about prostitution. It was about illegal brothels. It is about the failure of the authorities to prosecute those involved in managing them and profiting from the business. It is about the exploitation in brothels of these foreign victims by Anguillian men.
A couple of nights ago, Minister Cora Hodge, phoned me to express her concerns. I learned that the Immigration Department has, in fact, carried out three raids on illegal brothels, not one, as a result of which several more women have been deported. (It was very kind of her to take the time to respond to my concerns, something she definitely was not obliged to do. I am very grateful to her.)
My response to the Minister was that her Ministry had very poor PR if there have been three raids in all. I have never heard of any raids on houses of prostitution except for the one raid (which I got in writing from a senior police officer). The other two raids must be very recent, maybe even subsequent to the publication of my article. I urged her to have someone write and publish a press release explaining to the Anguillian public what the Ministry of Home Affairs has accomplished in dealing with the illegal brothel problem. It is not acceptable to keep sweeping this matter under the carpet.
The Minister did not seem to realise that what is really sad about merely deporting the foreign girls is that the only persons who are made to suffer from the criminal activity of the men who run the brothels and live off the proceeds are the female victims themselves. They are not treated as victims but as criminals and deported. They are doubly punished for their poverty and helplessness. The men, by contrast, only have to wait until the replacement girls arrive to continue their connivance at their exploitation.
Minister Hodge further advised that the Ministry has found a solution to the large numbers of these women and girls working in Anguilla. They have introduced a visa requirement for Venezuelans. They have reduced the visa time to just one week. What use is that, I ask? My information is that the Anguillians involved in this trafficking frequently bring the girls in at night, illegally, at Sandy Hill and Little Harbour bays, landing them on the beaches. When they enter Anguilla that way, no one asks them about their visa.
The brothel activity is not reducing as a result of these three raids. The Jamaican lady mentioned earlier told us that she lives in Blowing Point, and two new houses have opened up since the hurricane, right near to her home. She told us that the demand for new girls is growing such that plane trips to Santo Domingo are now being arranged to bring back new stock.
My second problem with this so-called “solution” or “remedial action” is that this visa requirement only accomplishes two things I can see. One, it ensures there is a steady supply of fresh girls imported into Anguilla. The result of this “remedial action” is that the men who frequent these places have new victims once a week instead of once a month.
Two, all one week visa policy achieves is an increase in government’s revenue from granting the inevitably requested visa extensions. This new visa policy makes it look like the government of Anguilla is knowingly participating in brothel keeping and living on the proceeds of prostitution.
One correspondent commented on the original Blog: “Remember when Anguillian men went off to Macoris and other places, well you know what happened, men being men and being away from their wives, well, boys will be boys and that sort of behavior resulted in lots of babies, which came to Anguilla to claim their birthrights, and with them they brought their culture which includes Bodegas and brothels.”
To which I responded that we need to be careful not to seem to adopt the usual, false, weasely, Anguillian, fall-back excuse that all these wrongs are caused by the foreigners in our midst, especially the “Spanish”, and not by real Anguillians. The truth is that brothel keeping in Anguilla is principally an affair of native Anguillians. So, the particular family who own the houses in question may not personally run them. But, they knowingly rent out their premises to these brothel keepers. They are as much living off the proceeds of prostitution as Liliana, shown in the Ms Soncini's photo blog. It is the same with many of the other “Sports Bars” throughout the island. They are owned by native Anguillians who are happy to live off the proceeds of prostitution while hiring others to do the dirty work.
My worry is that a lot of us in Anguilla (mainly the men) are in denial about the consequences of this growing illegal and unhealthy business on our society. The church is silent in the face of their most prominent members being participants in this business. The National Council of Women appear to have had their balls cut off. Members of the Mothers’ Union can be said to have deteriorated to a state of decrepitude. Seventh Day Adventists appear happy to argue only about the correct Sabbath Day, while ignoring the pain and suffering their members bring to these exploited girls and women.
Mind you, like Victor’s alleged assertion, I have no problem with prostitution. Everyone has a right to sell his or her body for sex, ONCE they are an informed and consenting adult. But, we know the hazards to health and welfare that exist where this behaviour is conducted in houses that are not regulated and licensed. (I will let others more qualified than me in matters of morality worry about that aspect.) Some of these women are not consenting adults. Some are under-age. Others have been trafficked, meaning to me, tricked, beaten, and exploited.
Unlike with licensed brothels in St Maarten (if they still exist), the workers in Anguillian whore-houses are not medically examined on a weekly basis. Diseases such as Syphilis, super clap Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HPV and Genital Herpes, among others, are being injected into our families when the men come back home from these houses. Limiting the visa time for these women to one week is not going to have any impact on the rate at which STIs are introduced into our society.
Obviously, because they are illegal, these illegal whore-houses are not examined by the public health department to ensure the conditions are sanitary. The derelict buildings that are used for this trade, (as demonstrated in Belinda Soncini’s photo-blog) and the second-hand mattresses that the customers lie on seemingly in the abandoned villas at Mariners Hotel at Sandy Ground and elsewhere remain vermin infected. This is an appalling way to treat these women, as if they are dogs without rights, barely human beings at all.
Because these houses are illegal, the sex workers are not protected in the event they are raped, beaten and even killed as happened recently. The result of this free for all is that children are trafficked to Anguilla as sex workers. Without protection of law, we can expect that most of their money is taken away from them (not least in paying officials for protection). Their passports are confiscated by their pimps and managers, so they cannot escape the island, even if they are so desperate as to ask directions to the nearest police station.
The conduct of these Anguillian men who condone this “Sports Bar” business is disgusting, and would be unacceptable in any civilised country.
This begs the question: Is Anguilla a civilized country?