Legalize Prostitution in the Philippines

Legalize prostitution in the Philippines! Saying that in the halls of Congress, and you have to sponsor a bill to amend existing laws related to the legal prohibition of prostitution, is like placing a huge x mark on your forehead. It’ s like political suicide, with a worse backlash suffered by the proponents of the RH Bill from certain religious communities.

According to the data presented by the Philippine Commission on Women, in relation to the Anti-Prostitution Bill filed last year, there are around 400,000 to 500,000 prostituted persons in the Philippines. The figure includes women, some male, transvestites and children. As of 1997, there are around 60,000 to 100,000 child prostitutes, with Metro Manila, Angeles City, Puerto Galera in Mindoro Province, Davao and Cebu as the top five areas for child prostitution and sex tourism. Child prostitution is, and should always be, covered by criminal prohibition.

But as far as prostitutes of legal age, and 18 is considered as the age when individuals can make decisions for themselves in the Philippines, the recent report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) entitled “Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific” has stirred a bit of debate in the country. I doubt if it’s going to be a vigorous debate because the topic of prostitution will always be discussed with hushed voices.

The report essentially says, “legalize prostitution in the Philipines.” According to the UNDP document, as reported: “The legal recognition of sex work as an occupation enables sex workers to claim benefits, to form or join unions and to access work-related banking, insurance, transport and pension schemes.” This portion of the report, taken in isolation, shows the well-meaning intent of the report. Indeed, come to think of it, if you use your mind or skills in doing your livelihood, sex workers use a different set of skills to perform their work. And just like anyone else, they put food on their family’s dining table. They are more prone to diseases and physical abuse. The report suggests the decriminalization and regulation of prostitution.

There’s a reason why prostitution is one of the oldest professions in the world. It has always been there, and will always be there, even if we pretend otherwise. I’m reminded of the recent news involving a Catholic priest who is fond of going to a night club. He was sacked by the Church, of course, but in connection with that issue, we can choose to look deeper into night clubs and prostitution.

We cannot totally ignore the contents of the UNDP report because it raises valid points. Prostitution is legal and regulated in in many parts of the world. Legalizing prostitution in the Philippines will better protect sex workers. But will it protect the society? Does it dehumanize sex workers? Is it an affront to the family and the religious sensibilities of the Filipinos? Let’s hear from you.

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  1. Legalization vs Decriminalization

    To put it simply, “legalization” is the process of turning a particular action into being legal. For example, legalization of prostitution means that patrons no longer have to hide whenever they seek the services of a prostitute. The act becomes completely legal and is just as acceptable as the purchase of gum or candy in a retail store. All the punishment and consequences attributed to the act are no longer in effect.

    On the other hand, “decriminalization” means that the criminal penalties attributed to the act are no longer in effect. Coming back to the original example, decriminalization of prostitution means that individuals found committing the act would be exposed to lesser penalties like a fine or a special permit. In this case, if prostitution is decriminalized, then individuals engaged in the business would need to have an official approval from the government in order to operate OR be fined if they are caught doing it. Some individuals are of the opinion that the decriminalization of an act reflects the changing social values of a society. For example, should prostitution be decriminalized, then this means that more and more people are learning to accept the presence of the industry. Consequently, it is taken as a hint that a decriminalized act has the possibility of being legalized after some years.

    Read more: Difference Between Legalization and Decriminalization | Difference Between | Legalization vs Decriminalization

  2. Arguments for legalizing prostitution ignore one important facet of the sex industry: that these persons were forced into prostitution by: (a) poverty, (b) unemployment (which is tied to the poverty), (c) human trafficking groups, and (d) its their choice.

    I’d BET my bottom dollar that most prostitutes chose to enter the sex industry simply because they WANTED TO. Many women and children were illegally recruited by syndicate groups under the guise of charitable institutions or humanitarian organizations. Most prostitutes failed in their previous professions and were forced by their unfortunate circumstances in life INTO the sex industry.

    Prostitution is an unfortunate result of the inequality of social forces in all societies.To legalize prostitution is to IGNORE a greater societal problems, and those are: underdevelopment, gender and age discrimination, underemployment, underpayment, wrong economic policies, etc.

    1. Sorry for the typo, what I meant to say is: I’d bet my bottom that dollar that prostitutes entered the Industry NOT, but due to unfortunate circumstances in life. Sorry

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