Jamaica Will Not Decriminalize, Regulate Commercial Sex Work, Prime Minister Says
Jamaica will not decriminalize and regulate commercial sex work in the country, Prime Minister Bruce Golding said recently in response to a suggestion from a Ministry of Health and Environment official, the Jamaica Observer reports. In a statement released on Sunday, Golding said that the administration has no intention of decriminalizing sex work or targeting the profession for revenue purposes.
Kevin Harvey -- senior medical officer in charge of the HIV and sexually transmitted infection program at the health ministry -- last week said that the government could raise up to three billion Jamaican dollars, or about $43 million, in taxes by decriminalizing sex work. According to Harvey, the funds could be used to support the country's HIV/STI program, which costs about one billion Jamaican dollars, or about $14 million, annually. The funds also could be used to develop interventions targeted at sex workers because they are one of the groups most vulnerable to HIV, Harvey said.
In the statement, Golding said that the health ministry has been conducting a program to reduce the spread of STIs, particularly HIV. The program includes public awareness efforts to encourage safer-sex practices -- such as condom use, regular testing and early treatment -- according to Golding. "While the program is aimed broadly at the sexually active population, special attention is given, for obvious reasons, to those who, by virtue of engaging in commercial sex, are at severe risk," he said. Golding added that the World Bank last month approved a $10 million loan to support the program and that an agreement with the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for $44 million will be signed later this month (Jamaica Observer, 6/24).