Bloem: St. Maarten Government has no good will for sex industry

POSTED: 07/18/16 5:07 PM

St. Maarten News —“Government is targeting the sex industry and not acknowledging their own responsibility,” said attorney at law Jairo Bloom who is representing the Adult Entertainment clubs on the island. The government and brothel owners have been at loggerheads in recent months, with the government putting a stop on issuing work and resident permits for sex workers. The decision is putting a strain on business for brothels, forcing them to seek legal representation to address the issue. The government is mooting the idea of offering business licenses to sex workers, so they can operate as individual entrepreneurs as opposed to receiving a work permit.

The Court of First Instance had ordered the government to continue to accept work permit applications, but many of these applications were rejected. It was only last week that some of the applications were taken by the Ministry of Health where the clubs were left with the option to return to court for penalties if the government refuses to comply with the order. The judge in the Court of First Instance did not think that this order was prudent.

According to attorney Bloem, instead of returning to court, it was decided to continue speaking with government to see if a consensus could be agreed upon temporarily, ending the long awaited legislation or policy governing the industry that was to be finalized since January 2016. In the meeting between the club owners and the representatives of the Ministry of Health where a draft for a temporary solution was made, it was not adopted by the Council of Ministers and has since decided on a new policy, said Bloem.

Bloem pointed out that the decision by the Council of Ministers will inadvertently result in the closure of the clubs since it was stated that the clubs must have permits. He mentioned that the government felt that by facilitating these permits that they may have run the risk of being an accomplice in human trafficking or human trade. Meanwhile, in a decision by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands stated that bringing sex workers from abroad is not absolute and that sex workers are held against their will and have to work under adverse conditions.

“Now that the court has ordered government to continue to process these applications and that government has stopped the contract without the concessional period which is deemed unlawful and comes up with a new requirement which is the permit and government must have the ultimate decision to decide who should get the permit,” Bloem said. The club owners see this as an attempt by government to have them closed or slowed down. “There is little or no good will from the Council of Ministers but a repeated attempt to close them or come up with a solution,” said Bloem. The discussions between the Ministry of Health and the club owners were said to be in an advanced stage along with the representative of the Ministry of Justice in this issue.

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