Trinidad & Tobago Mirror: ‘They are workers, too’
By Denyse Renne
“I am not a prostitute nor am I against prostitution; I am against persecution.”
So says fiery Clothill Walcott, President of National Union of Domestic Workers (NUDE).
A veteran in the women’s movement, Walcott is upset over the exploitation of women, including prostitutes.
“If you say equal opportunities or equal rights for women, how can you state this and exclude the working class of woman, namely prostitutes?” she asked.
“Prostitutes are workers, too, they have a family to support, children to care for and yet, when they carry out their trade, they are exploited and victimised.”
Walcott continued: “Women do two thirds of the world’s work for five per cent of the income, and only one per cent of the assets.”
“You only have to visit the jails and see the majority of these women are from low income homes and they are trying to make the ends meet.
“They are not proud of what they do; it as a way of surviving.”
Walcott stressed: NUDE has never stated that we want prostitution legalised.
“What we stated was the laws against prostitution should be abolished.
“Everything these days is a joke to society.
They are condemning prostitution and the prostitute, society does not realise the extreme dangers these women face.
“Laws not only fail to protect prostitutes, they increase their exploitation and dependency in the underworld.
“These women pay through their noses for protection.
“Sometimes with their lives, while the big business thrive off their illegality and the women still get arrested, fined and jailed.”
Walcott further emphasised: “Our union will be joining coalitions to issue petitions supporting the abolition of laws against prostitution and to end harassment of prostitutes.
“Also an amnesty for all women arrested for prostitution and removal of all criminal records relating to prostitution.”
She also wants immediate housing, welfare and protection for all women who want to get out of the profession and viable alternatives for juveniles.”
General Secretary of NUDE, Ida LeBlanc, said: “These women are being taken advantage of by MP Eric Williams.
“He has been attacking prostitutes and calling on the authorities in increase penalties for prostitution.
“How can he state these things when his role in Parliament is to address the problems facing the country?
“Vulnerability to violence in already a major problem that prostitute women face, and they should not be treated like criminals.”
“The government is the one to see that everything is good in the country.”
LeBlanc continued: “These prostitute women women should not be punished for trying to put food on the table for their children.
“Society condemns and states that these women spread sexually-transmitted diseases.
“This is untrue.
“Prostitutes do not spread this epidemic, society is only looking for a scapegoat.”
Walcott said: “There are a lot of persons that cast judgement on these women.
“I say to them, he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”