The Oldest Profession
The Oldest Profession / Ignacio Estrada
Posted on April 3, 2013
by Ignacio Estrada
Havana, Cuba. The oldest profession has returned to Cuban streets and
provides a stable source of income for a vast number of mostly young Cubans.
Regardless of time or weather, there are no shortages of sex workers in
Havana to satisfy a sexual appetite. The revolution of 1959 promised
equality for all but the largest share of its benefits went to those in
positions of power, their cronies or closest relatives. In its wake and
in spite of shutting down the old nightclubs and brothels, prostitution
has returned as one of the best paid professions today.
The trade is practiced by those we least suspect — coworkers, neighbors
or even classmates. Large numbers of people in recent years have changed
their morals like chameleons change colors and lead double lives.
I have nothing against those who choose to become prostitutes. Quite the
opposite. I believe that it's time that the Cuban government legalize
the practice, unionize the workers and allow them, as is done in other
countries, to be licensed as legitimate Sex Workers.
Male and female prostitution is not only practiced in the Capital but it
extends to every territory. There are known brothels, escort services
and red zones, the last which are prone to violence and crime. Charges
are different for citizens and foreigners and are even higher when part
of the profits go to a broker or a pimp.
Without sanitary practices and health screenings, prostitution has
caused an increase in the spread of veneral diseases. The rate of
HIV/STDs is now higher than it has ever been in the nation's history.
There needs to be a call to action to demand that all who provide or use
these services follow safe sexual practices.
While some parents are proud because their children bring home new
clothes, perfumes, gifts or other items, others mourn the loss of a son
or daughter to violence, to abuse or to illnesses such as HIV. There are
also those who are happy that their children have managed to leave Cuba
to live elsewhere and can return to visit them carrying gifts.
As a nation, we need to put an end to injustice and legitimize this line
of work so it's treated the same way as any other profession.
Legalization would provide protection under the law as well as
protection from officers of the law who abuse their power to extort and
harass the sex workers.
It is important that parents, family and citizens safeguard children,
supervise their activities, know where they are at all times and ensure
that they are not exploited or misled, especially for sexual purposes.
While I have nothing against prostitution, I condemn those who take
advantage of minors for sexual favors in exchange for gifts or money.
The foreign press and other outlets report that child prostitution
exists. I am unaware of any such case as a reporter but if I learned of
one I would have no problem denouncing it in an article.
Legalization of sex workers does not condone civil disobedience. We need
to find a way to keep our streets and neighborhoods clean and safe, to
protect the workers and the customers from disease and to regulate and
legitimize a commonly practiced trade.
Translated by: Vivian S. Bedoya
25 March 2013