30 December 2010

Timor Leste's Prostitution. To condemn or to manage it?

Tempo Semanal-Dili, 29.12.2010 Those who involved in prostitution mostly come from neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Philippine and China. Those people are victims of human trafficking lured to Timor Leste with promises of decent jobs and good earnings. However when arrived in the destination country most of them are forced to provide their service in prostitution. They are forced to do the work by sex traffickers operating in those countries. Hence it is mandatory to the authority to prosecute those people involved in human trafficking by putting them in jail or have them deported.

A database of men suspected of human trafficking need to be established. Identify these people, prosecute them, deport them and deny them entry to Timorese territory for unlimited of time. Timorese authority has been cracking down those involved in prostitution. Many foreigners have been deported whether they are victims or traffickers.

One important question raised from this issue is how about those Timorese who are also doing their service in prostitution? Should they be condemned by the society? Or should we, as society help them by providing certainty on their activity with a proper legislation and a designated place? A designated place or decriminalized brothels need to be considered to help improve safety. Yes, we talk about safety whether it is in term of health, combating human trafficking, security for all and social impact on the society.

Those people involved in prostitution are not the enemy of society as long as they make it for a living and do not harm anybody. But those that need and should be considered enemy of authority are those traffickers. Therefore, Police need to have guidance on how best to deal with problem linked to prostitution.

A debate is also needed in creating a prostitution law in order to tackle the negative effects from this activity. In order to manage something, one needs firstly to create a proper legislation to that end.

Designated places must be established openly and recognized by government in order to manage those girls who make a living in that service. To condemn is easy but it is more difficult to find a proper solution to the issue. So it is better to manage than to condemn.

Management by laws, legalization and finding designated places are good steps forward to help solve the negative effects of prostitution. By a good management on this issue, the government can monitor those who make a living from this activity and prosecute those who involved in exploitation of human beings. The government as representation of State must help those women in the prostitution by providing them safety guidance on health issues. Consider them as partners in combating health issues such as HIV-AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and cooperation in combating against human trafficking, which is synonym to sex exploitation of women. This can be done with decriminalization policy on prostitution.

It is time for this debate by Timorese society. (***)

See also an analysis of the social problem of Prostitution in East Timor on East Timor Law Journal

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