Women, children pushed into prostitution due to lack of better opportunities in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 5 Oct) – Failure to address lack of better economic opportunities has brought up the number of women and children engaged in prostitution in Davao City, the non-government organization Talikala Inc. said Thursday.

From January 1 to October 4, 2017, Talikala Inc. executive director Jeanette Ampog told reporters during the “No Prostitution Day” commemoration Thursday at the Cinematheque Davao that her office rescued a total of 255 women in prostitution, including 75 children, compared to 217 women for the entire 2016.

The youngest was 12 years old while the oldest was 68, she said.

Ampog also blamed unfair access to employment opportunities and access to basic social services as among the reasons why the women would resort to prostitution to earn a living.

She said the rescued women would receive counseling, undergo seminar on prostitution, and educate them on their rights in order to demand the government to provide the basic social services.

Proclamation No. 7 signed by then City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte on October 2, 2005 declared October 5 of every year as a day of “No Prostitution” in the city, citing the policy of the city government to uphold the rights of women and children and the belief of their worth and dignity as human beings.

Participants from different barangays, barangay councils for women, academic institutions, religious organizations, and victims joined the commemoration where “Gagmay’ng Tunob sa Kadalanan” (Little Footsteps on the Street), a documentary by Mark Henry, was screened.

The documentary, produced by Talikala Inc. and The Breakaway Media, was about three minors – aged 12, 13, and 17 – who were forced into prostitution because of “extreme poverty, abuse and unwanted situations”.

“The three are just few of the 40% children from total number of 4,000 prostituted women and children in Davao City, one of Philippines’ top cities. While prostitution is illegal in the country, Philippines has an enormous sex-tourist industry,” said the synopsis on the film.

Janice Pinky Moreno, social section head of the Integrated Gender and Development Division (IGDD), acknowledged that the in-migration contributed to the increase of number of women in prostitution, with the city now becoming attractive to those looking for better economic opportunities.

She said they are relentless in educating and advocating for women empowerment, most especially in the barangays, to put a dent on the growing number of victims venturing into prostitution.

Moreno said City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has allocated P25 million to fund a program called “Magnegosyo ta, Dai” in order to address the economic needs of the victims through social entrepreneurship.

She said the local program was previously supporting the “women in difficult circumstances”, or those women abused by their partners, but they are expanding it to cover the victims of prostitution this year with support from City Agriculturist Office (CAO), City Veterinarian’s Office (CVO), City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO), and City Cooperative and Development Office (CCDO).

Moreno said CSSDO provides loan worth P10,000 while additional loan worth P20,000 to P50,000 from the CCDO. (Antonio L Colina IV / MindaNews)