The Freundel Stuart administration has been formally asked to intervene to regulate the adult entertainment industry and bring an end to constant raids at strip clubs across the island.
After holding talks with local club owners, the Global Adult Industry Association (GAIA) has written to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, Minister of Commerce, Industry, International Business and Small Business Development Donville Inniss and Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, outlining recommendations its wants Government to seriously consider.
GAIA president Charles Charlie Spice Lewis said he had written the Government ministers to explain the club owners’ concerns about the repeated raids and highlight the benefits that regulating the sector would bring for the economy.
Those suggestions include the appointment of an Adult Entertainment Committee to develop, implement and manage the regulatory framework and guidelines for strip clubs to operate in Barbados “safely, legally and in a socially responsible manner” and the introduction of: a zoning system to ensure clubs are restricted to designated areas, a licence to authorize owners to set up and operate adult entertainment establishments featuring exotic dancers, a new immigration entry visa to permit dancers from other countries to work in licensed strip joints in Barbados for one to three months for a fee, and strict guidelines for dancers working in the clubs.
“The benefits of regulating the clubs in Barbados are considerable and will make a noticeably positive impact on the lives of many people and to our struggling economy,” he said in a statement issued before he called a Press conference at the Lucky Horseshoe Restaurant in Worthing, Christ Church this afternoon.
“We therefore urge the Government to give our recommendations serious consideration in the best interest of the large number of constituents who patronize these establishments regularly, the entertainment needs of our visitors and the . . . survival of our economy.”
Flanked by three club owners who did not want to be named, Lewis said the proposed guidelines for the clubs would improve standards, operating procedures, and provide a code of conduct, while addressing the concerns of the health, police and immigration authorities.
He added that the Adult Entertainment Committee would monitor the clubs to ensure that the owners, managers, employees and dancers adhered to the guidelines.
Lewis also addressed the issue of morality and the religious community’s condemnation of the adult
While saying there were moral lines that club owners would not cross -such as encouraging prostitution, drugs, guns or nudity – he said morality was a personal choice.
“I believe that some of the very lewd behaviour should be tapered a bit. However, if consenting adults – dancers – make a conscious choice to provide very edgy entertainment, then by whose definition is the dignity out of order? The people who don’t want it or don’t support it?” he questioned.
“It is a choice that women make; women are not forced. In fact, I don’t think that strip club owners would have a problem if the very extreme acts are done away with.”
Lewis estimated that between 30,000 and 40,000 people patronize strip clubs in Barbados.