January 28, 2013 (1:59 PM)

3 min read


I once laughed at a quote from a woman saying “Bago ko sila mapakain, kakainin muna nila ako.” I didn’t really understand that at first. I thought she was just saying something about how hard it is to work in order to feed a child. But as I went out to actually converse with them, it was more than work; it was beyond selling their bodies.

The United Nations, in its October 2012 report, said criminalization “increases vulnerability to HIV by fuelling stigma and discrimination” and suggested that Asian countries, including the Philippines, legalize prostitution.

Various non-government organizations have intensified their anti–prostitution drive to address the growing number of trafficked women and children from this city. The group said more women and children are being recruited for prostitution outside the city, and this is the growing concern now.

The city has an estimated 4,000 women and children involved in prostitution, the youngest of whom is nine and the eldest is 60, based on the record of the Talikala Davao last year. The figure is lower than the reported 6,000 of 2011. This is because some have already fled to other locations in the case of human trafficking.

Further human rights violations such as the humiliation and rape of women and children brought about by such disguised opportunity are main points I am worried about.

The report stated that there is a better option of safer sex practices and preparation when prostitution is legalized through providing health and safety standards in the industry. “There is no evidence that decriminalization has increased sex work,” it said. But women’s rights organizations in the country have opposed the UN’s proposal.

In contrast, employers of entertainment establishments are made responsible for guaranteeing that women are ensured under the threat of losing the former’s business licenses. Prostituted women are required to submit to a periodic physical and medical check-up but customers are free to receive services even without any health clearance. As an assessment, social hygiene clinics are legally sanctioned and operated by the government.

Therefore, any attempt to legalize prostitution manifests payment and a promotion to a thought that prostitution is a job that deals with women’s bodies as commodities for sale. Women are no longer blamed for immorality and pathology, but rather they are viewed as a negative statement of human resources for sexual services. If a country cannot provide its people with decent jobs, homes, regular meals and basic education, then women and children’s vulnerability becomes more pronounced as they are targets for profits in the sexual gratification business.

Prostitution continues as one of the forms of violence against women. Prostitution is a violation against human rights that needs to be directed in a greater part of indigence in the country.

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