The big debate that started last week was whether it was time once again to consider the decriminalising of prostitution. The question was brought to the fore due to the numerous raids that have been taking place across the country in recent times. The Chancellor bust last week is still fresh in our minds. Prior to that, there was similar police action at a Cunupia establishment where several women, mostly foreigners believed to have been engaging in prostitution, were taken into custody. And from time to time, long before Double G pledged to wipe out this illicit vice, raids at known neighbourhood ‘holes’ were commonplace.

So the question stands, should we legalise prostitution or not. We could almost hear the religious organisations and the pious amongst us from here, shouting, NO! And we are almost sure that some of our womenfolk are silently bawling at this time in the negative as well. Minds are likely to be racing at this time wondering how could legal prostitution be rationalised with our children etc. But we ask again, why not? Some may recall a few years ago when we first launched our editorials, one of the initial pieces was based on this very subject. And our views haven’t changed. We also know for a fact that there is significant support for such legalisation.

Whether we like it or not, whether prostitution is legal or not, it is going to continue. Wherever there is demand for a product or service, it will flourish either above or below ground. However, there is a better chance of controlling the trade with legislation that could result in greater protection for all parties involved. Workers would have to undergo regular medical tests and be registered to work. Establishments would have to be inspected and certified like restaurants, bars and hotels. And of course, there will be the added benefit of taxes to be collected by the state. Most importantly though, the legalisation of prostitution would lend to a significant reduction in the illegal trafficking, exploitation and abuse of the very young and vulnerable being caught up in the underground sex trade.

The topic is as difficult as it is controversial but it must be addressed to offer protection to those exposed especially to the dangers of exploitation. And in many ways, it’s similar to the ongoing debate over the decriminalisation of ganja that the state is paying attention to. Why then shouldn’t the issue of prostitution be put on the front burner? We might want to examine the models used by the various territories around the world that have legitimised the sex trade for suggestions. It’s an issue that’s too serious to sweep under the rug.