By GIZELLE MORRIS, Trinidad Guardian
Despite warnings from Culture Minister Pennelope Beckles on the rising incidence of sex tourism and HIV/AIDS in T&T, many young people are offering sex for sale to Carnival visitors.
The fees range from US$100 to $300 for the night.
“Carnival is a big money venture. When the white men come you could call US$100, $150, and they paying that,” one young woman said.
Jenny (not her real name) is one of a growing number of young people who have sexual relations with tourists, but only at Carnival.
“Some girls come out with a friend who hustles and when they see money flowing they get entrapped,” she said.
These young women and men do not consider themselves prostitutes, but opportunists.
“It’s not always for the money. You might go out to lime and meet somebody. You realise money spending and after the lime the man would put the question to you and, of course, you would not say no,” Jenny said.
“Plenty girls only come out for Carnival because that’s when the money flowing,” said Natalie.
“It’s a money-making thing. You can get money to go to fetes and buy clothes, although not all white men are willing to pay for it.”
A youthful 31, Natalie, tall, big-breasted and dark-skinned, has a job and her own home, but has given in on occasion to the sexual whims of a Carnival visitor.
By her own account, Natalie fell into the web of seasonal sex for money several years ago while liming at Smokey and Bunty’s with a friend.
“This gorgeous white man comes and starts to lime with us. Then he came right out and said, ‘I want to have sex with you tonight,’” she recounted.
Natalie did not fall for his line that night, but he was persistent and a few days later they had sex at her friend’s home.
“We were leaving, he put something in my hand and said ‘buy something nice for yourself,’” she recalled with a giggle.
When Natalie got home, she opened the bundle clutched in her hand. It was US$200.
Asked why she did not refuse the cash, Natalie said: “Somebody puts money in your hand you’re not going to say, ‘you feel I is a whore’ and give him back.
“Noooo! You’re going to pull the money out dey hand and stick it in your bag.”
Nisha, an 18-year-old A-Level student at a private institution last year met a British man with whom she had sex on several occasions.
She will not accept money for sexual favours.
However, “when the man is spending money you feel obligated to give him sex,” she whispers, almost with guilt.
“They may carry you shopping, to the grocery and take you out, but not actually give you money in your hand for sex,” she said.
Hours after meeting the man at a bar in St James, Nisha ended up spending several hours in his room at the Hilton, where he had oral sex with her.
“It could happen to anyone,” she insists with her eyes downcast.
“They are coming from the States with money, US dollars. I would refuse and say ‘no thank you?’” Jenny interjected.
Long ago, white, American men were the favoured customers, Natalie said. However, now, any foreigner will do.
“Once you have that accent you getting it,” she said.
“Now girls realise it is not only the white men willing to spend money, because US$100 is the least a non-working girl would call for.”
On the stigma associated with such sexual activities, Natalie is scornful.
“It’s better than giving it to the poor fellas down here, who will tell all their pardners and friends what your navel look like, how your pink is and you still going home with empty pockets,” she said angrily.
“Pick up a white man for the Carnival and he will carry you all over the place,” she maintained.
But it is not only women who get involved in the brisk Carnival trade in sweat and skin.
Young, gay men also become hooked on the easy money that can be earned in the seasonal sex fray.
Of the hordes of tourists that flock to our shores, several come looking to take a walk on the wild side.
Darren, 26, said he has picked up foreign men during the Carnival season.
He said foreign men seem bolder about approaching local men at Carnival time.
“The shy ones will just give you the look, but the braver men will start buying drinks,” he said.
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