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'Those who pay for sex must be punished', say Jamaican group

GROWING CONCERNS: Those who support the illegal sex trade must be punished, according to a coalition concerned about prostitution in Jamaica (photo credit: North Coast Times Jamaica)

A GROUP of churches and the lobby group Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society have proposed that Jamaican lawmakers punish persons on the island who buy sex.

A representative of the coalition, Philippa Davies, read out the groups' submissions yesterday to a Jamaican parliamentary group reviewing Jamaica's sex laws. She urged the lawmakers to reject the recommendation by the Jamaica Aids Support for the decriminalisation of prostitution especially to respond to HIV and AIDS cases.

The church groups pointed to a 2014 study which noted the decline in HIV cases among sex workers from 21 per cent in 1990 to 4.1 per cent in 2004.

Davies said that data shows Jamaica making progress in reducing HIV/AIDS cases without decriminalising prostitution. She argued that prostitution degrades and demeans women and girls and facilitates their abuse and that a law against prostitution is a reminder that sex is not a commodity. The group also linked its suggestion that Parliament punish buyers of prostitution services to human trafficking, which it said could be considered in the act of buying sex.

The church groups involved are the Jamaica Association of Full Gospel Churches, the Jamaica Union of Seventh-Day Adventists, the Jamaica Evangelical Alliance, the Church of God in Jamaica, Independent Churches of Jamaica and Pentecostal Union.

This article also appears in our sister paper, The Gleaner.

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