Minors luring other minors into prostitution a ‘disturbing’ trend in Davao, says group

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 September) — There is a trend of prostituted minors in the city referring other minors to their clients online and via SMS, according to a nongovernment organization seeking to reintegrate women and children in prostitution into society.

Speaking at Monday’s Kapehan sa SM media forum, Talikala executive director Jeanette Ampog said the discretion offered by social media sites such as Facebook and text messages has abetted this “disturbing” trend.

“The clients meet them online,” Ampog said. “One moment they’re having coffee meetups, and eventually they become clients.”

She said it was new for minors in prostitution to “pimp” other minors without handlers to clients.

Ampog said the city had around 1,900 women registered as working in prostitution and required to have monthly reproductive health checkups.

The “registered” workers were the ones being supported by the local government, which gave them access to smear services every two weeks, she said.

However, she added that there were around 3,000 unregistered prostituted women who “freelanced” in the city.

She said their office also received reports of children as young as nine to 11 years old working in non-penetrative prostitution.

More disturbing was how they would refer fellow minors to clients.

She said the practice was discrete, with data very difficult to obtain. She cited the case of students from private schools who used the excuse “group study” to get out of their homes or boarding houses.

“But the laws are contradictory when it comes to prostituted women,” Ampog said. “What is prohibited is the solicitation of minors. Women who are prostituted are also penalized. But there are discrepancies: if you work at a club, you have to have an occupational permit.”

She reminded media to be careful not to use the term “commercial sex workers” to refer to the women. She said the term was unacceptable, as it “professionalizes” the abuse.

“If you ask us if we are disturbed about the government being ‘supportive’ of their trade, we have been disturbed for a long time. But the government has services that help these women and children get support in terms of social services,’ she added.

Asked what women and children in prostitution needed to have to get out of the practice, Ampog said jobs and technical skills trainings would be enough.

“Financial assistance can only go so much,” she said, calling one-time cash assistance “palliative.”

“You have sectors giving money, but the recipients pay their debts, pay for hospital bills, buy things. You will not be helping these women,” she said. (MindaNews)