Realities of prostitution tackled in film and life

Oct. 03, 2013

Davao Today

Davao City –  Along dimly lit streets here, men walked up to women in skimpy clothes, and strike up negotiations for quick sex in sleazy motels or elsewhere.

Somewhere in Davao City’s night life avenues, where darkness is punctuated with neon signs from bars and videokes, young girls have hard time coping with jeers and frowns from passersby.

“Gitawag ko nila buntog, burikat, buring, unsa klase ko nga babaye nga mouli ing-ani nga orasa? Siyempre sa edad nako ato katorse anyos…(They call me bitch, whore,  prostitute, what kind of a woman am I to be coming home at this hour?  Of course, I was 14 years old at that time…),” a woman engaged in prostitution said.

Later, another woman, in between sobs, said: “Ang gusto nako mo-eskwela ko, dili ko gusto mahimong buring. (I wanted to go to school; never did I want to become a prostitute)”

These are some of the narratives from the 20-minute documentary called “Bibili Ka Ba? (Are You Buying?), Real Stories of Women in Prostitution”.

This documentary will be shown in a film-forum this Friday October 4, at Cinematheque along Palma Gil Street sponsored by Talikala and Lawig Bubay, non-government organizations helping prostituted women and survivors.

The event is part of the observance of the International Day of No Prostitution on October 5, an event supported by the city government since 2005.

The documentary was made by the alternative media group Kilab Multimedia.

The film narrators said they went into prostitution at a young age, a fact confirmed by Jeanette Ampog, executive director of Talikala, who said currently 40% of the 4,000 documented prostituted women in the city are minors. The youngest is reportedly nine-years old.

“These minors must be in schools studying, not on the streets waiting to become a victim of abuse,” Ampog said during Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw press briefing.

Lack of education and decent jobs are reasons why these women indulge in prostitution, Talikala’s research showed.

“These women are forced to be prostituted for they find this kind of job be able to provide their daily needs,” Ampog said.

Another group Lawig Bubai (Women Rising), which provides education and livelihood for prostituted women said some 900 women are working as guests relations officers (GROs) in bars.

“Some of these GROs are not from Davao and flee in the city to search for a decent job but ended up being prostituted and victims of human trafficking vulnerable for abuse,” Lawig Bubai  spokesperson Lory Paburag said.

Paburag said had there been enough of social services, an agenda pushed by anti-pork lawmakers and protesters in Congress, women and youth won’t risk themselves to prostitution.

Ampog added that government must provide alternative livelihood for prostitution survivors that would fit their skills and capacity and for them to be able to provide the daily needs of their families. (Earl O. Condeza/

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