CASTRIES, St. Lucia CMC – Authorities here are warning of an increase number of people, including children now engaged in prostitution.
Head of the Human Services Department, Antoinette Joseph, said high unemployment, a lack of job opportunities and rising commodity prices have forced many women into the sex trade. She said that prostitution and child sexual abuse have become significant issues on the island, warning that the situation was getting worse.
“We are aware of reports of children of both sexes being pushed to the edge, these incidents are most common in low income homes primarily in the capital, but it’s now commonplace across the island.
We have made several reports to the Police, so that they are well aware of the situation,” she said.
Joseph said that the situation provides a ‘serious challenge’ to authorities, who are dealing with reports of young girls roaming the streets waiting to be picked up.
“For us it is a significant challenge, as for some people it is their response to the economic situation, and for others, migration as they have parents who are out of state, and children are left to take care of themselves or by an older brother or sister, and it really not fair to them to be given the burden of caring and raring children,” Joseph said.
Earlier this year, National Security Minister, Victor La Corbiniere, called a meeting of stakeholders to discuss ways of dealing with an upsurge in commercial sex. Social worker, Debraoh Scott, said a trend has been discovered suggesting that parents were behind children involved in prostitution.
“There are a lot of instances where young girls become prostitutes because they help pay the rent, while others unable to get a job, sell their bodies to support themselves.
“One female from a single parent family told us that while she does have a legitimate job, she sells sex on the side to supplement her income and make ends meet,” the social worker reported.