Clothil Walcott calls for legal, civil and economic rights
By David Millette
Clothil Walcott has been waging a 17 year battle for the recognition of the rights for prostitutes.
Walcott, president of the National Union of Domestic Employees (NUDE), recently renewed that battle, when she issued a call for the abolition of prostitution laws.
And she has hit out that other women’s organisation have been offering no support to the prostitutes, especially when they are arrested.
Walcott has also slammed People’s National Movement (PNM) MP Eric Williams for his reported call for the authorities to increase penalties for those guilty of prostitution.
In 1984, Walcott held a meeting at her Mount Pleasant Road, Arima home, which was attended by what was described as a “large crowd of prostitutes”.
At that meeting, the prostitutes presented a list of problems that they wanted Walcott to raise at the end of the Decade Conference, which was scheduled to be held in Nairobi, Kenya around that ti9me.
Walcott said then: “Local prostitutes do have problems and these problems have taught men how much we owe them and how much we still refuse to take them into account.
“Very often, they have to endure sexual harassment and they end up at the low end of the social ladder.”
Last weekend, Walcott, speaking on behalf of The International Wages for Housework Campaign and the International Women Count Network, reissued her call for abolition of prostitution laws in TnT.
“We call for legal, civil and economic rights for prostitute women in TnT,” said Walcott.
“Women are divided by the prostitution laws, and are vulnerable before these laws.
“Those who enforce them take advantage of the fact that the prostitutes are outcast.”
She slammed: “And other women are not particular about what happens to them (prostitutes).”
Walcott added: “The plight of the 23 prostitutes who have been arrested for prostitution by police officers a few weeks aback and their frequent harassment, have given us great concern, as there are no laws to protect them in their means of sustenance and no support coming from other women’s organisation.
“Our organisation cannot stand aloof to watch our women folk subjected to such a dejected and degraded position and remain silence.
“We can’t leave injustice to go unchallenged.
“We demand the implementation of a UN Convention, which demands ‘sex workers’ rights and which makes visible every woman’s situation and contribution to society.
“Once there are ‘special laws’ which segregate any group from the rest, equality before the law is negated.
“We want all women to be protected.
“The prostitution laws are not about protecting women, but about persecuting and controlling and dividing women.”
She slammed the law that allows women to be “Arrested, brought before the court and convicted on the word of a single police officer for a prostitution offence.
“The police need no witness and no complainant.
“It is their word against that of a ‘common prostitute’.”
She added: “Poverty forces many mothers into prostitution to feed their children and themselves.
“At the same time, statistics prove that low paid jobs can’t take women out of poverty.
“Prostitutes should not be punished for trying to put food on the table for their children.”
She lashed out: “MP Eric Williams should be ashamed for attacking prostitute women and calling on the authorities to increase the penalties for prostitution.
“His role in Parliament is to address the problems facing the country.
“Vulnerability to violence is already a major problem that prostitute women face and they should not be treated as criminals.”