The Caribbean: History of the Sex Trade & Sex Workers

Published: 2021-06-29 07:10:27
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The Caribbean: History of the Sex Trade & Sex Workers

The Sex trade can be traced back to Sumerians and Babylonians. According to Sir James Frazer in his book The Golden Bough "In Phoenician temples women prostituted themselves for hire in the service of religion, believing that by this conduct they propitiated the goddess and won her favour "It was a law of the Amorites, that she who was about to marry should sit in fornication seven days by the gate."..."
It was considered sinful by all religious entities. The Roman Catholic Church exhibited some tolerance to the sex trade, with the aim of preventing the bigger evils of rape and sodomy. Regulations against the sex trade increased across Europe after the outbreak of Syphilis in Naples during the 15th Century. Sex trafficking increased across the world in the 19th Century. The trade boomed in the latter half of the 20th Century as a result of globalization and Western Tourism. When it comes to the Caribbean region however, the sex industry has taken stride in three main areas; Barbados, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic--other countries include Costa Rica and Cuba. Apart from the varying situations within a country that leads to such actions influencing the outcomes of Sex-Work as the main source of income to a home, for example, broken homes, disabled parents to say the least; one large factor which encourages the growth of Sex Work is the Tourism sector.
The Caribbean is known for many things, its beaches, expressive culture, music and musical instruments, amongst other things - what the Caribbean is known most for however are its women. Caribbean tourism has been branded and marketed based on the West's imaginary idea of "tropical paradise" (Henshall Momsen 2005, Sheller 2004). As Janet Henshall Momsen points out, "the word 'Caribbean' conjures up Kodak images of azure seas with matching skies framing green palm trees along unblemished white sand beaches, awaiting Robinson Crusoe's footprint" (2005:209). In 1492 Christopher Columbus, the first white tourist, wrote to King Ferdinand, "Sire, these countries far surpass all the rest of the world in beauty" (in Henshall Momsen 2005:209). Henshall Momshen states that "Thus the region's first publicist sold the image of an Edenic, unspoiled paradise to attract investment and visitors half a millennium ago. Little since has diminished tourists' fascination with islands" (2005:209). Lowry (1993) states that tourism advertisers rely on a sign system, informally known as the four S's of tourism advertising: Sun, Sand, Sea and Sex. This has been particularly prevalent in promoting tourism in the Caribbean.
On the "macro level" sex tourism, like colonial relationships, is characterized by economic inequality and the dependence of the Caribbean region on the global North. Caribbean countries, remaining economically marginalized as they were under colonialism, turn to tourism to bring in needed funds and pay off debts. The tourism market is the wealthy nations of the north, and to sell themselves to these consumers the Caribbean region must rely on old fantasies of tropical paradise. The perpetuation of racial stereotypes and fantasies through the imagery of tourism industry marketing... On the micro-level, the importance of race and economic power is revealed on an individual level within intimate relationships, where both men and women of the global north can use their privileged positions to access the bodies of Caribbean natives. These dynamics are perhaps more subtle than under colonial or slavery conditions, but that doesn't mean they are any less wrong, only more insidious. In the Caribbean, impoverished people and impoverished nations sell themselves to the wealthy global north because they have little alternative. And the global north is buying.

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