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OPPOSITION Chief Whip in the Senate Pennelope Beckles yesterday said Trinidad and Tobago is seen by some abroad as a place where women and children are trafficked and where Tobagonian men are marketed in package-deals in sex tourism for European women.
She was speaking on the Trafficking in Persons Bill in the Senate yesterday. Claiming that TT has developed a reputation for sex tourism, she said European magazines carry advertisements for well-organised services linking up European women with hired Tobagonian men. “There are some institutions that market Tobago in a particular light, as if that is all that Tobago is about,” she lamented.
Beckles recalled the episode of Simona Fricker, an HIV-positive Swiss woman, who is said to have deliberately had sex with many Tobagonian men who were subsequently put at risk of exposure to the virus.
Noting the scandal of International Monetary Fund (IMF) head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is charged with assaulting a hotel maid, Beckles said this case shows that persons who are held in high esteem may be involved in shocking activities.
Beckles opined that likewise in TT, persons involved in sex-trafficking were powerful and untouchable. She lamented that while every few months the police would raid a brothel, the next day or next week or next month, it is back to business as usual.
“How are they able to operate in Marabella, Chaguanas and Port-of-Spain, when so many people – police, thief or the public – are aware of those places?” she asked. Quoting a US State Department Report, she said, “As difficult as it is for us to believe, in the outside world we are perceived as a country where women and children are trafficked.”
She said the report lamented the lack of prosecutions and convictions in TT for human trafficking. Beckles warned that persons who do not have birth certificates or do not attend school, are vulnerable to human trafficking. “There are people who are monitoring those situations more than you think.”