Bloem: ‘It seems gov’t wants to get into prostitution business’

PHILIPSBURG–The desire of authorities to establish a website via which exotic dancers and prostitution workers can signal their wish to ply their trade in St. Maarten as opposed to them applying directly to adult clubs, has prompted attorney Jairo Bloem to say that it seems that government wants to get into the prostitution business.

Bloem on Monday reached out to authorities by sending a letter to government’s attorney Richard Gibson Jr. in which he suggests that parties meet to iron out an interim compromise where the issuing of work permits for exotic dancers is concerned. Bloem said Monday’s letter had been his sixth or seventh to Gibson Jr. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Last week the court gave government and the clubs one additional week to come to a solution, after parties failed to reach an agreement in the first two weeks that had been granted for them to do so. “Our clients want to, again, remain completely at the disposal of government to meet whenever government wants,” Bloem told The Daily Herald.

Bloem also met with representatives of the clubs he represents on Monday to update them on the court hearing of last Friday.

Gibson Jr. had sent a letter to Bloem on the eve of last week’s court hearing informing him that because the prohibition of human-trafficking is absolute, interim solutions are not possible for exotic dancers, whose services have already been acquired abroad.

Gibson Jr. said in the letter that acquiring and soliciting of women from abroad falls directly under human-smuggling. Authorities have an issue with the club owners or someone working on their behalf soliciting the prostitution workers, paying their expenses such as her ticket etc. and arranging for their permits to get to the island. If an exotic dancer reads an ad about the industry in St. Maarten and decides on her own accord, to make contact, come to St. Maarten and arranges her own permits etc, this eliminates the human-trafficking aspect.

Bloem said club owners are willing to not advance any funds to bring dancers to St. Maarten. He said, however, that it is unreasonable to expect exotic dancers to come from, for example, Belarus and arrange for their own papers.

He said government wants to establish a website via which the girls can apply. This, he said, seems to suggest that government wants to get into the prostitution business, because it wants to do what it is telling the clubs it can’t do, to avoid human-trafficking. “It doesn’t make sense,” Bloem said. “It will open a can of worms and cause problems. Government is putting itself in an impossible position,” he noted.

To prevent the Government of St. Maarten from being held for an accomplice to human-smuggling it was decided to halt the issuing of work permits for exotic dancers. Since March 1, no new permits have been issued and all 63 pending requests for permits were turned down from that date.

The clubs had said earlier that this prevents them from continuing their operations. The clubs had filed an injunction and an administrative procedure against Government over its move to discontinue the processing of employment and residence permits for exotic dancers, pending the finalisation of a new policy. The clubs want Government to honour the current (discontinued) policy and process the applications received for permits since December 2015, until the new policy is in place.

The new policy is to be based on the new Criminal Code and international law and treaties banning human-smuggling. The clubs are concerned that since the discontinuation of the processing of permits more than four months ago, no mechanism has been put in place for them to bring in female workers in the interim to sustain their operations while the new policy is being ironed out. The situation is stifling their operations and could lead to their closure, the clubs had claimed.

Source: Daily Herald
Bloem: ‘It seems gov’t wants to get into prostitution business’