DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 3 October) – In line with the observance of the International Day of No Prostitution (IDNP) on October 5, non-government organizations (NGOs) Talikala, Inc. and Lawig Bubai have questioned the registration and occupational permits required by the city government for women in prostitution.
Jeanette Ampog, Talikala executive director, said that prostitution has remained prevalent in the city for the past 18 years since the issuance of Executive Order No. 7 Series of 2005 by then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, which declared October 5 as “No Prostitution Day” in the city.
Although there are laws against prostitution such as Republic Act (RA) 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination, RA 11930 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse or Exploitation of Children (OSAEC), and RA 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women (MCW), women in prostitution are still largely active in the city partially because of the occupational permits that recognize prostitution as sex work, Ampog said.
“Prostitution is illegal but there are regulations that seemingly regulate it,” she said in Bisaya during Monday’s Kapehan sa Davao at SM City Davao.
Ampog noted the city’s Business Bureau issues occupational permits to women “not to prostitute, but a permit to be an entertainer, dancer, massage attendants” in the entertainment industry where prostitution thrives.
In Davao City Ordinance No. 5004, under Section 16, the local government supports women in the entertainment industry in amusement places such as “clubs or day clubs, cocktail lounges, super or family clubs, disco houses, minus-one or sing along houses, bars or beer houses/gardens, fast food centers showing sports competitions or replay shows by direct hook up via satellite or those showing video cassette films / movies, beach resorts, and other places of amusement where one seeks admission to entertain himself whether by seeing or viewing or by direct participation.”
Section 17 of the same ordinance mentioned that women in the entertainment industry are entitled to free medical routine check-up and medicines as necessary.
Ampog said these national laws and city ordinances need to be reviewed as they contradict each other.
“Dili lang man na permit mag G.R.O (guest relation officer), dili lang mana permit musayaw. Pero naa gyud syay tan-awonon kung apil ba diha ang paghubo, apil ba diha ang pagpahikap sa iyang pribadong parte kay entertainer ka,” she said. (It’s not just a permit to be a G.R.O, it’s not just a permit to become a dancer. But there is a need to review if it comes with stripping, if it comes with touching private parts because you’re an entertainer.)
Lory Pabunag, secretary general of Lawig Bubai, said that there are some 600 registered women prostitutes in the city, while 1,300 are unregistered, including adult and minor women in the streets and in online prostitution.
Like Ampog, Pabunag questioned the need for an occupational permit when prostitution in the city has been recognized “as a form of sexual exploitation and not as a work.”
“Kung muingon man gud ta ug work, naay dignidad, naay produkto, tapos naga enhance ug skills sa usa ka tao, pero sa prostitution, wala man ta nakita na in-ana,” she said. (If we are to say work, there’s dignity, there’s product, and it enhances the skills of a person. But in prostitution, we don’t see those.)
Good for one year, the occupational fee is P125 for first time applicants and P156 for renewal, the Business Bureau said.
The question about the requirement for an occupational permit for women in prostitution is one of the concerns the NGOs have raised on the shadow report on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which Talikala had handed over to the United Nations’ Committee on Women.
Pabunag said her organization will further raise their concerns for the occupational permit for women in prostitution in the upcoming multi-sectoral forum on October 5 in line with the IDNP observance, which will be held at the Ateneo de Davao University.
Representatives from the city government, including the Business Bureau, the academe and NGOs have been invited to the forum. (Miah Christine Bontilao / MindaNews)