Widespread prostitution has been a reality in the Philippines for decades. The economic of significant areas in parts of Angeles City and Subic Bay even rely on it. Not to mention all the families in places like Samar who receive money from women working in those kinds of areas. Yet the exchange of money for sex remains officially illegal in the country.
Everyone knows what goes on in places like Fields Avenue and P Burgos in Manila. But for the most part it continues unabated. That is at least until something happens that causes a bar or two to get busted. After local government leadership called a meeting with Angeles City bar owners recently things again heated up a little. Candy Bar on Don Juico being raided soon after and shut down. What’s next? Who knows. There’s little chance the Angeles City red light district will be completely shut down anytime soon, but more raids could be on the menu.
UN agencies: Legalize prostitution in the Philippines
While this game continues to be played, several United Nations agencies are suggesting that the Philippines drop the pretense and simply decriminalize sex work. The recommendation comes in the form of a report called Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific.
A report from the Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom summed things up:
The Philippines and other Asian countries should decriminalize sex-related jobs in order to provide sex workers access to basic rights and to control the spread of sexually transmitted infections especially HIV, a new United Nations report said.
“The legal recognition of sex work as an occupation enables sex workers to claim benefits, to form or join unions and to access work-related banking, insurance, transport and pension schemes.”
In decriminalized contexts, the sex industry can be subject to the same general laws regarding workplace health and safety and anti-discrimination protections as other industries.”
Decriminalization, the report said, involves the repeal of laws criminalizing sex work, being clients to sex workers or enganging in activities associated with sex work.
It should also repeal laws that require mandatory testing or treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other STIs, as well as laws that allow detention of sex workers for rehabilitation or correction.
The report stressed that Filipino sex workers remain highly vulnerable to STIs including HIV as well as sexual and physical abuse due to stigma.
This is somewhat old news and a recommendation not likely to be followed I know. But it remains highly relevant, especially in light of recent events. Of course the people who are interested in keeping sex work in the shadows aren’t keen on hearing these sorts of arguments.
As it stands, the sale of some or all sexual services also remains officially outlawed in South Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Yet it remains quite common in all of those countries. At the same time, the sale of sexual services is legal in Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Singapore. Those are five of the richest and most developed parts of Asia. That has to mean something.