By Audley Phillip
International law defines prostitution as a human rights violation. Prostitution and trafficking for sexual exploitation are inherently violent and harmful. The only way to protect women from such harm, violence, stigma and discrimination is to end the seemingly “legalized” sex trade in our country.
It should be illegal for any business to profit from the nudity of its employees. If we are to truly promote gender equality in Antigua and change attitudes towards women, we must make a start by ridding the country of these businesses that give and promote the sexual objectification of our women and girls. As long as the authorities continue to allow these businesses to operate, we’re never going to be able to reach an end to attitudes when men think it is OK to buy women as sexual entertainment.
Prostitution is rampant in Antigua. Many clubs promote the buying of sex, lap dancing, stripping and pole dancing. These are all forms of commercial sexual exploitation and therefore, a form of violence against women. I am extremely disappointed that our Gender Affairs Secretariat is not more vocal about the growing number of strip clubs and whore houses that currently exist and operate here in Antigua.
Jam Dong, Wendy’s, Stables, Bruces, Diamond Ice, GSpot, Viper are just some of the names I heard. Commercial sexual exploitation has contributed to gender inequality and normalised misogynistic attitudes in Antigua & Barbuda. Furthermore, I strongly contest that violence against women is not prevented, eradicated or reduced by the continued operation of these sexual entertainment venues.
The strip club business seems to becoming more widespread throughout the country. I believe that this industry is also proving to have harmful effects on our population. The laws set for strip clubs and whore houses are too lenient. My concern regarding these establishments can be mocked by those claiming that bars offering strip teases are entertaining and that it is our choice to attend them or not. However, for the sake of our future — entertainment for the human race should be beneficial, not superficial.
Woman who chooses to work at a club where they will be expected to dance in the nude has done exactly that — made the choice. Our decisions in life are influenced by one thing or another and in the case of which career we choose, money is usually a major influence. People have been lured into this career perhaps because of their social status in their home country, or because of their will to survive in this greed infested world. Whatever their reason for making that decision, no one deserves to be objectified simply for the entertainment of others.
Most strippers are women. These women are forced to dance in the nude for money. While women are still fighting to gain the equality of men’s rights in the workforce around the world, it’s clear to see why so many would choose stripping as an attempt to rise above poverty. However, by allowing strip clubs and whore houses to flourish, we are allowing women’s rights to become less important.
Once a stripper has been lured into this depreciating means of making a living, many of them turn to alcohol and drugs to escape reality. The façade of the wealthy life of stripping, dancing and prostitution is causing many of our youth and women to enter what in reality is a vicious trap. Sadly, we operate as if it is normal and we are almost sanctifying this scourge that people often refer to as the ‘oldest profession’ on earth.
There is no question as to the importance of entertainment for the human race. As far as history shows, we have never existed without some form of it. It is sadistic when we allow one’s idea of entertainment to humiliate and degrade the life of another.
While some may argue that it is our human right to be sexually enticed or to be the sexual enticer as a form of enjoyment, there is no place for these acts in the career world. Our laws are too negligent, and the effects are too drastic on individuals turning to this career. People that defend the importance of strip clubs and whore houses are only defending their right to sit back and watch as another human being is degraded.
(Audley Phillip is a veteran sales and customer service specialist having worked in the telecommunications sector for well over 25 years. He is now a freelance writer as well as a news and current affairs analyst. The views expressed are his own)