T&T Radio host bought sex from teens

A source spoke to me about a male prostitution ring involving a popular radio host who bought teens as young as 17 for sex. I was given the name of this radio host but will not disclose it to the public to protect my source.

These events took place between 2010 and 2014 in the Mt Hope area. Older boys were paid to recruit young men and boys for the sexual satisfaction of the radio host and other men.

Recruiters would be paid as much as $500 to get new boys for the sex ring. Boys who were unemployed, homeless or impoverished were often the targets of the recruiting scheme. While my source has since migrated, these sorts of sex rings are still functioning today.

This radio host was connected in the past to Parliamentarians and used his voice to advance political agendas. It must be remembered that some of the “advocacy” going on both in the media and Parliament serves the agenda of criminals, drug traffickers and human traffickers.

Readers must be reminded that a 17-year-old boy cannot consent to sexual activity with an adult by law, same-sex or otherwise. This radio host intentionally took advantage of vulnerable boys and used his status in the media to control them.

Research from Dr Raine at the University of York has shown that globally, male sex workers face high levels of abuse, especially those who are not from first-world countries.

In a paper entitled Violence Against Male Sex Workers: A Systematic Scoping Review of Quantitative Data, Dr Raine stated: “The largest proportion of studies reported data on sexual violence, whilst the most common type of violence experienced overall by male sex workers was that of ‘verbal or emotional abuse or threats’.”

This study is illustrative of the kind of risks young men and boys in T&T face when they are recruited or forced into sex work. They are at a high risk of abuse and violence and can even suffer sexual violence that exposes them to sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

The study goes on to say: The highest level of physical violence (40 per cent) was found amongst street-based participants in Southern India whose only source of income was sex work. Four other studies also focused on street-based sex workers and reported values ranging from 25 per cent to 34 per cent.

Twenty per cent of sex workers in Prague who were based in bars and clubs had been beaten by a client.

The most common form of sexual violence identified was being forced to have sex without a condom, which was reported by 43 per cent of male street-based sex workers in Southern India. Over a third of Vietnamese sex workers (34 per cent) also reported being forced into condomless sex.

While this topic touches on the issue of human trafficking, most of these cases do not meet the level of coercion or fraud necessary for the Trafficking in Persons Act to apply. There is a need for a separate national policy to protect both men and women in these abusive situations.

Need for a national policy on sex workers

Both male and female sex workers face a high risk of abuse and risk violence, sexually transmitted infections and even death to earn a living. There is a need to grapple with this harsh reality and train the TTPS and other state institutions the approach to uphold the human rights of sex workers, especially those who are victims of violence.

Some voices such as Dr Fuad Khan support the decriminalisation of prostitution. When asked for a comment, Dr Fuad Khan said, “In order to allow those unfortunate people who are forced into sex work as a result of being trafficked, we need to decriminalise the sex work and worker in order for them to feel comfortable to report the perpetrators without fearing being apprehended for prostitution and charged when they report the problem.”

Rebekah T Ali-Gouveia, attorney at law and founder of The Elpis Centre, disagreed with Dr Khan and stated as follows: “According to NCOSE, A study done comparing the effect of criminalisation on the amount of sex bought in Denmark, Norway and Sweden found that purchasing sex is most prevalent where it is legal and least prevalent where it is illegal. In Denmark, where sex buying is legal, 2.6 per cent of Danes had purchased sex in the previous six months compared to 0.5 per cent of Swedes where sex buying has been illegal since 1999 and 1.7 per cent of Norwegians where sex buying became illegal in 2009. Laws must be enacted to criminalise sex buying and law enforcement resources shifted to arresting and adjudicating cases involving sex buyers. There should also be laws that allow for sex buyers to be prosecuted as co-conspirators to sex trafficking, targeted and robust deterrence and prevention campaigns, as well as strong messaging against sex buying which has been normalised.

My novel Sharona’s Justice aims to sensitise readers to the plight of survivors of rape and human trafficking. It is available now on Amazon.com.

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