felt compelled to write this article after Iwas asked to consider starting an organi-zation that would help young girls to stopprostituting themselves in Jamaica. Beforestarting any task, I always research the prosand cons to decide if this is something that Icould undertake. What I found was distress-ing and realized that as individuals we haveto play a much bigger role to help uplift andprotect the youths.I recalled meeting a young prostitute wewould call “Maria.” Maria was born inBrooklyn to Dominican parents. I met Mariain one of Brooklyn’s projects housing whilevisiting a high school friend years backwhen I was in my first year of college. Uponentering the building, I noticed I was beingwatched by some guys in the lobby. Later,while in my friend’s apartment, Maria cameand introduced herself to me.I later found out from her that her“Pimp” sent her to investigate me. Withinthe three weeks of our meeting, I found outa lot about her. At the age of thirteen, shewas forced to lose her virginity to the“Pimp’s” twelve-year-old son. After that the“Pimp” had his share of her, and then start-ed charging money from his friends to havesex with her. I kept going back to myfriend’s house because I promised Mariathat I would visit.She wanted me to tell her what collegewas like, and once she even asked me toteach her to read. Unfortunately, I could nothelp her because her “Pimp” sent her toanother location. According to him she waswasting time hanging out at the apartmentwith us.Although this story happened inBrooklyn, it is not different from other girlsbeing prostituted in the Caribbean places.Prostitution in the Caribbean has increaseover the years. Girls as young as twelvehave found this old profession that datesback to the 18th Century BC from AncientBabylon and Sumer. Some of these girls vol-unteer to sell their bodies to buy school sup-plies.According to a report in The JamaicanWeekend Star earlier this year, a number of schoolgirls from communities around StCatherine have been visiting the popularstrip claiming to be hustling 'back-to-school'money.In a recent report by a UN refugeeagency, Trinidad and Tobago is a destina-tion, source, and transit country for adultsand children subjected to sex trafficking.The report also stated that girls from SouthAmerica and the Dominican Republic areused as prostitutes or conducting prostitu-tion in some of Trinidad’s night clubs.According to another report Children inGuyana are victims of the worst forms of child labor, including forced prostitution of girls as young as 12.The Kaieteur News noted that the USDepartment of Labor (DOL) 2011 reportedon International Child Labor and ForcedLabor blamed children prostitution partiallyon the absence of legislative gaps and defi-ciency of a national action plan to battlechild labor.Contrasting from some of the younggirls that are voluntarily prostituting inJamaica, in Guyana many of these girls asyoung as age 12 are forced into prostitution.Haiti also has its fair share of issues withyoung girls selling sex. In Port-au-Prince,the capital of Haiti, a journalist captured thedreadful life of these prostitutes on video.A video posted on
, explainedthe need for change in Haiti, as many turntheir backs on this situation. One of the girlsin the video explained that she started pros-titution after she was kicked out by her auntwhere she lived in the country. These girlsmake approximately $12 per night and notwithout the consequence of being physicalabused or/and contracting STDs from themen that buy them.Many questions came to mind whiledoing my research, but I will focus on twothoughts. For one, the concern of contract-ing HIV/AIDs, and secondly, what we as asociety are doing to get them off the streets.In case you missed this information, onAugust 2012 a report for the
covered a story that focused on legal-izing prostitution. Pro-prostitution groupsclaim that the AIDS epidemic can be pre-vented if prostitution is legalized. The groupwas backed by the United Nations sayingthat selling sex should be legal.I am not sure how the legalization of prostitution will protect the sexual exploita-tion of little girls. In my opinion, legalizingprostitution may give predators more ammu-nition to hurt these girls. As for my secondthought on what we as society will do to pre-vent young girls from turning to prostitutionor be prostituted. I will leave that questionfor you the reader to think of a solution andplay your part as these young girls could beour children.
• Dr. Neva Helena Alexander (Dr. Neva) is cur-rently a faculty member at Prince Mohammad University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as aCoordinator for Core Humanities and SocialScience in the College of Arts and Science. Shereceived her doctorate in education leadershipat Argosy University. She has her Master'sdegree in Social Science from Long Island University and her Bachelor's degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice where shemajored in legal studies. Her research interest and specialty includes female leadership, lead-ership styles and entrepreneurship.
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Legalization of prostitution will notprotect the exploitation our girls!
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n November 6, Americans go tothe polls to elect their politicalrepresentatives including president,vice-president as well as congress,assembly, city council representa-tives and mayors across the county.As expected the presidential racebetween President Barack Obamaand GOP nominee Mitt Romney aretaking the spotlight from the otherelections.Voters are more focused onObama’s performance during thepast four years and his plans for thesecond term and Romney’s plans if elected president.Traditionally, a significant num-ber of African Americans andCaribbean immigrants always votefor the candidates on the Democraticticket.On the other side, the more con-servative and wealthy Americansconstantly vote for the RepublicanParty.While, it would appear that bothparties contributed equally to thefailures and successes of America,party fanaticism and loyalists are nothelping voters to select the best lead-ers among us.Voters with extreme and some-times irrational enthusiasms orbeliefs, especially in religion or pol-itics always select inept and corruptleaders.We are urging all Americans toexercise their constitutional rights tovote on elections day. However, vot-ing should come with responsibili-ties.We should not vote along part-line or race, but, instead, analyze theissues as well as the policies and pro-grams being put forward by therespective candidates.A vote based on a set of princi-ples which you think will contributethe growth and development of every American citizen.On November 6 let us have aconscience vote, not a party vote.