By Hilda Austria
PROSTITUTION, considered as the oldest profession especially for women who think there are no other means to make their both ends meet, is still around today in many cities and towns including my city.
A friend from Arellano Bani Dagupan City told me prostitution in this side of the city is still rampant. He knows because beside his house has been the “pick-up” area for many prostitutes for as long as he can remember.
He said these women hide whenever they hear or see the police patrol car arriving in the vicinity to avoid inspection and, possibly arrest. There are also night clubs around his area which feature “live floor shows”, to include women undressing and dancing in front of many customers. This was confirmed by some men I have interviewed.
Knowing these, I wondered how the local government unit (LGU) enforces the Anti- Flesh Trade and the Anti- Human Trafficking Law and the many ordinances in the city against prostitution. There were no raids conducted so far.
Dealing with prostitution may now be a low priority to most LGUs since they have a many more pressing issues to address such as poverty, illegal drugs and corrupt officials. But, I think prostitution should not be neglected because it leads to far reaching and more complicated effects on the society.
Firstly, prostitution destroys families. Although marital infidelity is caused by a treacherous heart, prostitution worsens it as it drives the partners further away from each other. Instead of fixing marital problems, some men divert their attention to seeking relief from the pressure by seeking company of prostitutes. Secondly, prostitution leads to more vices and unhealthy habits like alcohol intoxication and cigarette smoking and could lead to contracting communicable sexual diseases, worse, AIDS/HIV.
Thirdly, prostitution victimizes everyone. To the question, who between the prostitute and the customer is the real victim, the answer is both. The customer will most likely suffer the consequences of his actions, from getting sick to risking his family relationship (if he is a family man). On the other hand, the prostitute can also be both the villain and the victim. Some prostitutes have no other means to support their families while others have been deceived and trapped, and unable to escape. Both profiles are unaware of the dangers and the consequences of what they consider as work.
I hope the LGUs not only in Dagupan City but in the entire province will address prostitution soon. Since we are celebrating Women’s Month this March, focused on women empowerment and advocating their rights, the prostitutes are also women who have rights that have been long trampled and forgotten, particularly their right to decent employment and support from the government.
I hope the government will have a special program for them so that they will learn that they have options to earn from a decent livelihood.
The government should begin to strictly enforce the law and punish the real criminals who exploit helpless women, destroy the moral fiber of families and communities.