Barbados: Curfew ‘upsetting’ sex workers

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(Barbados Today) – Local sex industry expert Charles Lewis on Tuesday appealed to health authorities to work with the sex trade to mitigate the impact of commercial sex on the spread of the coronavirus.

Declaring that sex will always sell regardless of whether there is a pandemic, recession, or any other global crisis, Lewis said that the 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew now in effect until January 14, has caused some upset among sex workers, as much as it has other businesses that operate at night.

Lewis, the founding leader of the Adult Industry Association, told Barbados TODAY: “Right now nobody is happy about the curfew and the sex industry is also upset about this. But the people in the sex trade need to survive can be different from people from other sectors.

“Those individuals on the street level, particularly those on Bay Street and Bush Hill, it’s a do-or-die situation.

“Whereas many people may have alternatives, many of these individuals don’t. They probably do, but they are not aware of the alternatives.”

He claimed that rising joblessness brought on by the pandemic has pushed more people to the sex trade for economic survival.

The sex trade has become more competitive, prices have dropped for sexual services and the demand has shrunk as customers are afraid to contract the COVID-19 virus and take it home to their families, he said.

Lewis said that there is no fixed decrease in prices for sex services, which is determined by negotiation between the seller and buyer. Nevertheless, he said due to the impact of COVID-19, sex workers are prepared to go far below the prices that they would normally charge, adding that it is currently a free-for-all where customers are benefitting from the low prices.

He said his association has written Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Minister of Health and Wellness Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bostic indicating the AIA’s readiness to join the fight to mitigate the impact of the activities of sex workers on the spread of the virus.

He said the correspondence was also copied to Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George and Chairman of Cabinet’s COVID 19 sub-Committee, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Dr Jerome Walcott.

He told Barbados TODAY: “The Adult Industry Association would be happy to offer the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit the benefit of our thorough knowledge and understanding of the sex trade to assist them in their efforts to mitigate the impact of commercial sex on the spread of the virus.

“There is an extricable link between the sex trade and tourism obviously, and it has been for years, and there will continue to be a link. Tourists are still buying the services of sex workers and the Government has got to be mindful of this.

“And this is why I suggested that the Adult Industry Association would be happy to consult with the Ministry of Health. Because without having expert knowledge and understanding of the sex trade, you are not properly equipped to mitigate the impact of the sex trade on the spread of the COVID-19 virus.” 

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