The island’s minister for gender relations and human services says the country is in crisis when it comes to children, illegal activities and sex.
The admission comes in the wake of the US Human Trafficking Report which listed the government of St. Lucia as not doing enough to address the problem.
According to the report, St. Lucia is a destination country for persons subjected to forced prostitution and forced labour and Washington said legal and illegal immigrants from Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and South Asia, especially those working in domestic service, reportedly are the groups most vulnerable to human trafficking.
Gender Relations Minister Alvina Reynolds says government has taken several steps to address such issues. However a major hurdle remains actual reports of cases where persons have been trafficked or forced into commercial sex work.
The report said there are indications children under 18 are “coerced to engage in commercial sex in St. Lucia” and that sex trafficking victims are likely found among foreign women in prostitution.
Part of the government action plan is the establishment of a Commission Task Force to look into the protection of children including strengthen legislation. The minister says she is concerned about the number of children on the streets, the numbers more who runaway from home only to be harboured by adults who coerce them into participating in illegal acts.
The minister is hoping to improve St.Lucia’s standing from the Tier 2 Watch List on the US State Department Trafficking in Human report.