A quick round up of recent stories on sex and sexuality in Caribbean News.
Sex workers in Suriname’s mining district to be taxed. No word on whether those taxes will be used to fund health care and social services for sex workers. Authorities complained that of the one billion dollars in revenue from the sector in 2009, the government only received US$50,000 in taxes. The aim of the sex workers registry, on the face of it at least, seems to be for the state to benefit from sex worker earnings. Chairman of the Committee Structuring Gold sector, Gerold Dompig is quoted as saying:
Trinidad & Tobago
Trinidad & Tobago announces a sex offender registry. The Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation notes that T&T already has a kind of registry:
Under the current provisions of the Sexual Offences Act anyone convicted of buggery (whether consensual or otherwise) is requried to notify his local police station of his address within 14 days for a period of up to seven years; and is required to undergo HIV and other medical testing.
Child sexual abuse is under-reported, even when reported convictions are few and very often cases are discontinued as some survivors and their families opt not to continue the case (for a variety of reasons). So if the intention is to eliminate child sexual abuse a sex offender registry misses the mark completely. Very often families, communities and schools know who the sex offenders are and they chose to remain silent. There is still a huge stigma attached to being a victim of child sexual abuse which helps to drive the silence. Also, recent UNICEF research on attitudes to child sexual abuse in Barbados and some OECS countries revealed that many Caribbean people did not view sex between an adult and a child as always criminal and as something that should always be reported to the authorities.
Trinidad & Tobago’s announcement of the sex offender registry was accompanied by offensive rhetoric of young men as “dark monsters” :
“This is absolutely important for the protection of women and children. When a young man comes around you, you will be able to go online and check and see if he’s a dark monster.” (Justice Minister Herbert Volney)
One facebook user reacted to the announcement saying:
One stated goal of the bill here is to repeal those provisions (mentioned above) and implement a real registry. And to criminalize more sexual activity. I know there’s a lot of support, especially among CSA (child sexual abuse) survivors, for offender registries, but I’m ambivalent. Do we have any experience with them in the region? What are they good for? Do they work in small societies fond of scandal? Will they increase vigilantism? vagrancy? criminality as one’s only option? What will their impact be on families and their economic support? Will they increase the ways communities and dependents protect offenders from justice? Will they indirectly stigmatise sexual violence victims?