Sunday, April 8, 2012

Are prostitutes criminals?

R.A. 10158, an act decriminalizing vagrancy or Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code, was published today Apr. 4, in Manila Bulletin and The Philippine Star. The law takes effect on April 19, 2012 or 15 days after publication.

Liza Gonzales, a survivor of prostitution, said in a statement furnished by Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), “They just passed a law which is highly discriminatory against women. We were singled out, targeted as criminals, while the pimps are decriminalized."

Originally, pimps were identified as belonging to the class of vagrants under the Revised Penal Code. Therefore, with vagrants dropped from the Code under the new law, pimps have also been excluded from being criminally liable.

Jean Enriquez, executive director of CATW-AP said she was shocked by the developments. “It’s the height of betrayal this Lent,” she told. CATW-AP also organized the march held Tuesday.

CATW-AP said that along with allied organizations, they have spent the last nine years lobbying to pass a comprehensive anti-prostitution law which will repeal the Vagrancy Act, not amend it. Their intent is to decriminalize the victims, but punish the buyers and the business.

Enriquez said that prostitutes never “dreamt to be a prostitute as a girl nor were they lazy.” They were “pushed by economic and gender-based violence” and “pulled by the market of buyers and sex profiteers.”

During the dramatization of the Stations of Cross at the rally, “a victim of prostitution and incest spoke,” said Enriquez. She represented the second station, which protestors renamed “Magdalena was sexually abused by her own uncle and grandfather.”

However, they were unaware then that the bill had already been signed into law by on March 27, or seven days earlier, by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino.

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