Sex workers want to pay tax


prostitution-legalized_EDIT.jpgThe Sex Workers Association of Jamaica has spoken out in support of recommendations for de-criminalization and levying taxes on Jamaica's sex industry, this ccording to a report on

In a front page story in one of the dailies, Dr. Kevin Harvey, Senior Medical Officer in charge of the Health Ministry's National HIV/STI Programme is quoted as saying the government could earn some $3 billion in revenue if they de-criminalized, regularized and taxed this sector.

The Association Spokesperson Marsha Grant said its members are ready for this move and are more than happy to support the call.

Ms Grant argued that despite the fact that prostitution and other segments of the sector are covertly supported by many Jamaicans, it remains a largely underground enterprise, fraught with danger.

She said de-criminalization would give workers greater protection.

"They are the victims of physical, emotional and psychological abuse both from clients and from other persons who operate in the industry. This would open-up an avenue for them to access support from the security forces," she said.

Accessing better health care

Ms Grant added that members of the Sex Workers Association are eager to gain access to other benefits taken for granted by Jamaican workers.

"Currently, they are not accessing health services as much as we would like them to and this is contributing to their demise. Operating underground as it were, they have little recourse for fair treatment and for making investments that can better their and their children's lives," said Ms Grant.

The Spokesperson warned, however, that in spite of the Association's eagerness to see change, the members will only pay taxes if their contribution to the national coffers ensures an improvement in both the HIV/STD outreach programmes and the treatment they receive when seeking assistance from the Police and other Government services.

Ms Grant said the Sex Workers Association of Jamaica is willing to sit with officials from the Ministries of Health, Justice, Finance and Planning to iron out a plan of action that will benefit all concerned.

She said her organization has already started working with Jamaica AIDS Support and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition.