Sex work in Jamaica is taboo. Selling sex – prostitution, is illegal. There have been ongoing lobby from a human rights perspective for the repeal of the 18th century laws that make prostitution (selling of sex) and buggery illegal. However several men and women practice the illicit trade sometimes covertly, sometimes out in plain sight. Sex workers are rarely arrested for selling sex, however, based on their own admissions, it is a dangerous business.
They are sometimes mistreated by their clients but they cannot report abuse to the police. The sex workers in this video claim that they are even abused by the police.
Sex workers are among the vulnerable populations in Jamaica and the nature of their work makes them vulnerable to contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Because the trade they are involved in is illegal, they have very little recourse available to them to seek redress when they are exploited or otherwise wronged.
It sometimes also prevents them from seeking medical attention if they become hurt or ill while plying their trade as they fear retribution and the violation of their trust if they divulge to medical practitioners what they do for a living.
This video was developed under a media fellowship awarded to Jamaican journalist, Carol Francis of Jamaica News Network, a cable television subsidiary of Television Jamaica and is based on the publication, “Oral Testimony of Jamaican Sex Workers” which was published by Panos Caribbean in November 2010.