Sex workers in Barbados are fearful of being attacked and abused while plying their trade and are not convinced that law enforcement officials are doing enough to protect them from criminal elements on the streets.
That’s according to President of the Global Adult Industry Association Charles Charlie Spice Lewis who said police should be encouraged to ramp up patrols in areas where sex workers are known to operate.
The comments came in the wake of 44-year-old Guyanese sex worker Caroline Baird being killed last Friday night.
“This has been very frustrating for me over the years because it’s already hard to get the authorities to give us an audience. But it’s very disheartening when my own people find it difficult to come together. But I think police should be encouraged to do more patrols in the areas where sex workers operate,” Lewis said.
“As we speak, police would pass by Bush Hill on a nightly basis and stop and say hi to a sex worker, maybe flirt for a bit, and go on. So, they are already patrolling, but not with a view to protecting sex workers. It is a matter of a courtesy call. I am not saying that they are soliciting but I have seen many times police stop and say ‘hey, how are you doing?’ and move on.”
During a frank discussion on the online Charlie Spice Show on Wednesday evening, Lewis said that like others across the world, sex workers in Barbados do not believe police have been doing enough to address their concerns as they do for others in society.
He said they are even arming themselves “with a knife or two” to protect themselves, which may compound the problem.
“This doesn’t say that every single police officer will not do their best to police or to perhaps investigate an incident. I mean, the recent murder of a Jamaican sex worker they actually found the assailant in a very quick timeframe. So they will do it, but the feeling is that they do not give sex workers the same attention when it comes to investigation as they do others.
“And also, people who are from the criminal element, they too feel that police do not give as much attention to crimes committed against sex workers and this empowers them more to commit crimes against sex workers,” Lewis said.
Baird, a mother of four, was reportedly involved in a struggle with a number of people in a motor vehicle around 11:15 p.m. before she was shot behind the Grand Stand of the Garrison Savannah in the area of Bush Hill, St Michael.
Lewis said sex workers believe they will receive limited justice when crimes are committed against them because they are operating in the black market.
Questioned about the possibility of sex workers contributing resources to pay for improved security, Lewis said people would be afraid of running into trouble with the law.
When contacted by Barbados TODAY, Police Public Relations Officer Acting Inspector Rodney Inniss said he was not in the position to comment on the matter at this time.