Press statement

Survivors challenge legislators on International Day of No Prostitution *

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October 5, 2004  

In a press conference today, survivors from organizations within the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) marked the International Day of No Prostitution, by criticizing statements by legislators during recent hearings in the Senate on the escort system.  CATW leaders also revealed studies on human rights violations within the system of prostitution.

Minda Pascual, President of Bagong Kamalayan and a survivor of prostitution in the street of Quezon City , challenged Senator Lito Lapid to study the problem of prostitution and human rights suffered by victims before making any statement on it.  Ms. Pascual decried the degrading remarks by senators, quoting Sen. Lapid, “Tutal bayad na kayo, wag na kayo magsalita,” and Sen. Flaver making fun of Keanna Reeves’ real name, “Ah, Janet Derecho ba, akala ko kaliwa.”  Pascual decried that the women are being treated in a humiliating manner, when they are known to have been used in prostitution.

According to Jean Enriquez, Deputy Director of CATW-AP, “women in bars and street prostitution have always been the target of humiliation, not only by legislators but more frequently by the police, even as the bar owners, pimps and customers run free and get protection.”   Philippine members of CATW revealed data from Regional Trial Courts in Quezon City that there were 623 women arrested for vagrancy charges in 2003 and 176 cases from January to June of this year.

“There should be a shift in the mindset of policy-makers, law enforcers and the public,” said Enriquez.  Calling for the passage of the Anti-Prostitution Bill, members of CATW asserted that the women and children in prostitution should be considered victims of economic and gender inequality which place women in subordinated and objectified status in society.  The bill, filed in the Lower House as HB 2419, in July 2004 by Representatives Mario Aguja and Loretta Ann Rosales seeks to penalize all actors that exploit the victims in prostitution.

 The International Day of No Prostitution is celebrated every October 5 globally, calling for the eradication of the industry.  In the Philippines , men from student and labor groups such as the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) joined the march of survivors calling for the protection of victims in prostitution and for penalties against customers and profiteers in the industry of prostitution.  The survivors wore masks during the march to symbolize the invisibility of victims brought by the stigma from policy-makers and the public.

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*
Statement of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific

 


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