By KIMBERLIE OLMAYA N. QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Legalization of prostitution will not ensure the protection of women and children from sex trade and other exploitation, Innabuyog-Gabriela said.
This is the reaction to the statement of an organization of sex workers, the Women Hookers Organizing for their Rights and Empowerment (WHORE) that calls for legalization of sex trade.
In an earlier press conference, a representative of the WHORE who asked for anonymity said they are opting for decriminalization of prostitution.
WHORE called for an end to the discrimination of sex workers and for the respect of their human rights. The group reiterated that prostitution is born out of poverty and lack of decent paying jobs. The group also pointed out that government programs geared to address prostitution fail because they are simply dole outs.
Speaking in a press conference February 8, Innabuyog-Gabriela chairwoman Mila Lingbawan-Singson agreed that prostituted women and children should be seen as victims and not criminals adding that the pimps, prostitution den owners and customers should be the ones arrested and jailed.
Singson pointed out that legalizing prostitution would only give pimps, prostitution den owners and customers leverage to further exploit and violate the rights of women in children. She said that what is needed is to amend the present laws on the sex trade.
She added that there is also a need to raise the awareness and organize prostituted persons to free them from exploitation and violence.
Innabuyog-Gabriela announced its Strike, Dance, Rise One Billion Rising campaign.
Rob Ocampo of the V-Men, a group of men advocating for women’s rights, said that prostituted persons should be treated as victims and be given better alternatives. He added that customers should be held accountable for exploiting prostituted persons. “We should blame society for allowing prostitution,” he said.
“There is prostitution because there is a high demand. Logically, there is no supply if there is no demand,” Karlo Altamonte, also of the V-Men added. He said that there is a need for re-education for both men and women to end discrimination and exploitation of women.
Senator Pia Cayetano filed a bill that seeks to shift the accountability from the prostituted person to the exploiters. Cayetano said that the bill also seeks to change the perception and treatment of prostituted persons as victims of the system and not as criminals.
The bill was first filed in the 14th congress but was left pending. It was filed again in the 15th Congress and remains pending. (Northern Dispatch / Posted by )