Last week, 19 girls of Venezuelan nationality were rescued by the Police from a life of misery and prostitution. This rescue was achieved following raids in areas such as Westmoorings, St. James, Ariapita Avenue, Diego Martin, and Morne Coco Road in Trinidad. Several Chinese nationals were arrested and detained in connection with the raids and according to Trinidad Express, this has been a major breakthrough in human trafficking, money laundering, drugs and prostitution rings in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
In light of the recent rescue of these young women, I applaud the members of the various divisions of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service who were instrumental in this operation.
While this rescue and subsequent arrests have certainly gladdened my heart, it led me to consider a more far-reaching issue. How many more women and girls are still being sexually abused, prostituted and trafficked in this country? In the Caribbean? In the world?
The answer: way too many. And this is unacceptable, especially in 2019.
But before we can solve the problems of the world, we have to address the issues at home. It is no secret that Trinidad and Tobago has been plagued by criminal activity and even more so in recent years. But the increase in human trafficking and prostitution in the nation is alarming. Its causes are many, but there can be little argument that there is no correlation between the rise in prostitution and drug rings in Trinidad, and the fairly recent economic and humanitarian crisis in the neighbouring Venezuela. There is a definite connection. The nationality of the young women who were rescued last week says it all.
Now, there is a lot that I can discuss on this topic. The current economic and political crisis in Venezuela is a talking point on most international news channels worldwide. Under the president Nicolas Maduro, the South American country has plummeted into a state of economic, social and political ruin. But this discussion is not about pointing fingers. Assigning blame will only go so far to address Venezuela’s various problems.
The fact is that the standard of living in Venezuela is now deplorable. Inflation has reached unprecedented levels and basic food supplies and medications are scarce. To exacerbate the situation, the current government under Maduro is refusing to accept foreign aid. As a result, the people are starving, unemployed, beleaguered by a worthless currency, and have no access to basic health care; they are scared and miserable.
When faced with the options of flight or fight, unfortunately, most people flee. Which is why countries like Trinidad and Tobago, which are very close in geographic proximity to the impoverished South American nation, are now facing the negative consequences of mass immigration. Crime.
Whether or not Venezuelan migrants are contributing significantly to the rise in the crime rate remains to be statistically proven. Regardless, it is a fact that many of them have become victims of crime. Most often, it is the women and children who are forced by their handlers into prostitution. And most often, those in charge of these prostitution rings are men.
It’s a very sad and shameful thing when desperate and vulnerable young women and children are sexually abused, raped and trafficked for the financial gain of certain evil, avaricious, soulless men. These women were trying to escape from a life of extreme poverty and misery, only to be thrown back into one of degradation upon their arrival into their new ‘home’. No woman or child should have to face such treatment in today’s world, regardless of her nationality, culture, or financial or educational status. Women are not property and cannot be traded like chattel goods. There is a dire need for charity and compassion in our country and the world.
As long as this crisis in Venezuela continues, there will continue to be mass migrations. We need to assist our fellow Caribbean nation and be a good neighbour. To assist in this regard, is to treat Venezuelan women (and men) with respect and human dignity. As long as we continue to welcome them across our borders, we as a nation must protect them.
Now, as to the immigrants who were detained in connection with the drug and prostitution ring, they should most definitely face the full extent of the law. In fact, I would lobby for their deportation. There is no excuse for deliberately turning to such heinous crimes when given the chance to start a new life in a country with economic opportunities.
I once again praise the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service for a job well done in rescuing the 19 Venezuelan girls, and I hope the perpetrators are soon brought to justice. Even more important, I hope that these young women receive the support that they need in order to recover from their ordeals.
Question: What are your views?