Male Sex Workers Opening Up

SoloJAMAICA – For years, some female sex workers have been plying their trade and speaking openly about their activities, but male sex workers are gradually coming out of the closet in Jamaica and talking about their experience.
The Sunday Gleaner recently met two male commercial sex workers who candidly spoke about their profession at an HIV/AIDS workshop organised by Panos Caribbean in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
Meet 24-year-old commercial sex worker, Kevinwho hails from an inner-city community in Kingston. He told The Sunday Gleaner that poverty and unemployment forced him into the commercial sex world.
His first encounter occurred three years ago when he wanted a pair of shoes and his friends introduced him to the streets, where he remains today.
He disclosed that he could make up to $7,000 per night. One encounter, he said, costs about $2,500 in addition to a condom charge.
The lanky youth is well aware of the dangers of HIV/AIDS and has received counselling from the Ministry of Health.
“Mi buy de condom an dem haffi pay for it.” He noted that the condoms vary in cost. “Him affi pay $50 extra fi di condom. If it’s a long love, him pay $200 and $250 fi di flavoured condom.”
According to Kevin, being on the streets of New Kingston at nights can be very risky and to protect himself, he has the license plates and contact numbers for his clients logged in a book.
“Yuh caan stay one place because dem wi rob yuh,” he said.
The commercial sex worker told The Sunday Gleaner that he and his colleagues are also harassed by members of the security force but sometimes pay them money to lessen the harassment. He related one incident where he was “juggled like a football” by a group of police officers.
Kevin is a graduate of a prominent all-boys school in St. Andrew. He has five Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects. He said if there were opportunities for a better and legitimate job, he would stop doing commercial sex work.
Twenty-one year-old Junior,another commercial sex worker says he sells sex during his spare time.
At age 16, he told his father that he was a homosexual and his father said he could no longer stay in his house. He went to live with his mother, where he became involved in sex work.
Junior, who also grew up in an inner-city community-related that he did not have a good relationship with his mother during his early years. He said that she now knows of his sexual preference and added that he is taking care of her financially.
His first commercial sex encounter on the street five years ago, was a traumatic one. He related that three men with weapons approached him at his hang-out spot, demanding that he have sex with them. One of the men, he said, forced him to have unprotected sex.
His mother later accompanied him to the doctor where he did an HIV test, which was negative. Now Junior insists that all his clients use a condom.
Like Kevin, Junior has had several violent encounters.
Boris Bloomfield, prevention coordinator for vulnerable populations in the Ministry of Health, said Jamaica has a sex industry worth millions of dollars.
The Ministry of Health has no estimate on the number, of male commercial sex workers, but it is estimated that 10-12 per cent of sex workers are infected with HIV/AIDS.
The Ministry of Health and the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) have been involved in counselling commercial sex workers.
But Andrea McLean, executive director of JASL, said many of these persons do not come forward for voluntary counselling and testing because of the stigmatisation attached to the profession.
Ms. McLean told The Sunday Gleaner that her organisation has had several complaints of violent acts being perpetrated against male commercial workers.
She is appealing to citizens to stop the violent acts towards commercial sex workers, noting that it affects the human rights of these persons.
The executive director said while JASL does not have a problem reaching female commercial sex workers for intervention programmes, it is difficult to get in touch with the male sex workers because homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica.
from The Sunday Gleaner

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