EDITORIAL – Sending mixed moral message
IN CHARLES DICKENS’ Oliver Twist, the character Mr Bumble, after being informed that “the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction”, replied “the law is a (sic) ass”.
It would seem that his response has never been more apt than it is today, considering a seeming ambivalence by our societies to treat to matters of moral turpitude.
Quite apart from the humour that is usually generated from much of the foolishness that generally takes up the precious time of our law courts, there is genuine concern about the public silence on these issues.
Consider this week’s most reported court matter, for instance. It was the case of a self-confessed prostitute versus “Iron Pig”. Yup, you heard it right, a woman engaged in the world’s oldest profession (these days they are referred to as sex workers) hauled one of her clients, Iron Pig, before the courts.
The funny part of the story is that the man, with whom the prostitute had had several sexual encounters, was unable to live up to his nickname on the very eventful night of July 1, 2006.
That’s when Iron Pig decided to take matters into his own hands. He turned on his lady of the night, robbing her of $1 456 in cash after what can only be described as an unfulfilling climax based on the account of both parties.
To add to the intrigue of the entire affair, the prostitute’s boyfriend was along for at least a part of the ride – he was reportedly waiting for her in his vehicle while she went to attend to Iron Pig.
Little did she know that 30-year-old Iron Pig had drunk too much on the night and that after paying her $100 upfront as usual he would exact much more from her after about 45 minutes of futile sexual activity on her part.
But the biggest irony of all is the fact that the prostitute was able to get the Crown to prosecute the matter on her behalf.
Four years after the incident at Bush Hill, the Garrison, St Michael (home to perhaps the biggest prostitution activity on the island), the matter was heard in the No. 5 Supreme Court by Justice Maureen Crane Scott.
Arthur Holder represented Iron Pig while the Principal Crown Counsel was Alliston Seale.
In the end, a nine-member jury, consisting of six women and three men, deliberated for close to two hours before finding Iron Pig guilty of robbing the prostitute. He is now awaiting the sentence of the court.
The Bible says “Judge not lest ye be judged”, so we are not going to judge either Tracy Gill, 31, or Iron Pig (real name Jason Greenidge) but what does it say about us when a person engaged in what is clearly an immoral, if not illegal, practice can come to the court and get justice, which is her due, but not face any type of censure for offending public morals?
Yes, soliciting is a so-called victimless crime – a misdemeanour in the eyes of the law – but at last check it is still illegal. There are no laws for condoms in prison, far less selling sex on Bush Hill or any other part of Barbados for that matter.
So what is the message we are sending to the wider society?
We believe it is time for us to deal with the whole issue of prostitution.
As a country we can no longer pretend that there is no issue. Either we legalise it or we uphold the law, but we simply cannot continue sending mixed signals.
Either we are hypocrites or we are not!