Government is missing out on millions of dollars in revenue from the sex trade industry which has grown here significantly in recent years, adult entertainment advocate Charles Charlie Spice Lewis has estimated.
Outlining the benefits of decriminalising sex work and developing a regulatory framework for the trade, Lewis said that ten years ago, he presented a research paper to the government of the day which showed the trade was generating in excess of $100 million at the time.
“I have got firsthand knowledge of a dramatic increase in the number of people entering sex work. The sex industry is here, it is vibrant, it is growing,” he said, contending that there has been an influx of sex workers since the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in the cost of living.
However, Lewis argued that the Government was the only entity not generating revenue from the industry which he said has the potential to contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Lewis, who is President of the Global Adult Industry Association, identified bars, guest houses, taxis, and other entities as among those cashing in.
“We have not even touched on the benefits to the tourism sector or the economy. . . . There is no doubt or misconception that people travel because of sexual activity in a country. I mean, we can’t get away from it.
“Knowing that the sex trade is regulated and it is safer in Barbados, those who travel because of the desire or interest in sexual activity, commercial and otherwise, you would see an increase as a result of that movement.
“People are already coming to Barbados to get involved in sexual activity, let us not bury our heads in the sand about this. As a matter of fact, if you were to tell certain tourists that there is no sexual activity in Barbados, they probably wouldn’t come at all. So, they are already coming,” he added.
Lewis added that if the trade were to be regulated and decriminalised, there would also be a decrease in criminality and health issues connected to sex work.
During his online Charlie Spice Show on Wednesday, Lewis said that while he is aware the church may not be in favour of legalising prostitution in Barbados, that has not stopped the industry from expanding.
“In spite of religious principles and in spite of morality, it has grown and it continues to grow and there is no possibility of stopping the industry. So we have to look at managing it.
“So I think that with proper dialogue, the church will have to agree that something has to be done to put measures in place to manage. The church will push back but the church will have to listen to common sense,” Lewis said.
He said Barbadians should also be mindful that there are members of the gay community involved in the sex trade.