Special Report: A Life in Pain

Mar. 17, 2006

The Business Bureau only has 11 personnel assigned to regularly inspect more than 28,000 establishments in the city that employ these women. Besides, according to Agustin, they were not sure whether some of these establishments have become prostitution dens.

But for Anne, who was a GRO for three years (she now works in an NGO for PWs), City Halls ambivalent and exploitative policy will only worsen the conditions of PWs. These women, she said, are into prostitution mainly due to poverty. This policy, she said, ensures that PWs will remain PWs because the city, which is now comfortable with such a policy, cannot be expected to provide alternative means of livelihood for them.

Trinidad shares Annes view, pointing out that the city must rethink its policy of dealing with prostitution as a criminal, rather than a social, problem, keeping in mind that prostitution is a result of poverty, poor economic conditions and lack of job opportunities. We are trying to correct this impression, Trinidad said.

She said the city will abide with national laws that see prostitution as an exploitative condition, and that it is not a profession nor a crime. We are asking the help of our women, especially the prostituted women, to notify us and give their feedback on how these laws will be implemented because we are trying to make innovations and we are trying to make politically correct moves in so far as the issue on prostitution is concerned, Trinidad told davaotoday.com in a recent interview.

A correct and fair interpretation and view of prostitution is necessary not only in order to deal with effectively but also in alleviating the plight of PWs.

For three years, Anne said she experienced countless instances of abuse, both verbal and physical, by her customers. In many of these cases, she said the owner of the bar would blame her for not entertaining her customers well.

Because she was a PW, Anne said, she was regarded more as the criminal, than the victim. As such, she could hardly avail of the usual interventions that ordinary women could have, such as government support. Worse, many PWs are arrested, charged, and harassed, while their abusers, such as the recruiters, pimps, establishment owners, promoters, and customers are free from accountability.

Laws such as the Anti-Vagrancy Law only worsen the plight of the PWs, said Talikalas Laurel. While the police tend to abuse PWs rather than protect them, precisely because of the view that they are criminals. (Jetty Ayop-Ohaylan/davaotoday.com)

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