Gabriela lawmaker nixes UN proposal to legalize prostitution-A A +A
Monday, October 22, 2012
A PARTY-LIST lawmaker representing women in Congress warned Monday against the recommendation of the United Nations (UN) to legalize prostitution in the Philippines amid an increase in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cases in the country.
In its report Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific, the UN said that legal recognition of sex work as an occupation would enable sex workers to claim benefits, to form unions and to access work-related banking, insurance, transport and pension schemes.
But Gabriela Women's Party Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said legalization of prostitution equates to the legalization of slavery and exploitation.
"The legalization of prostitution will not in any way ensure the protection of women, children and men forced to engage in the flesh trade. Legalization will not guarantee protection against sexually transmitted infection and HIV," she said.
A Department of Health (DOH) report say around 272 Filipinos tested positive for HIV in August. This brought the number of cases to 10,514.
Ilagan said protection from HIV infection can be done by increasing women's awareness and education as well as ensuring women's access to health services.
Ilagan instead proposes for Congress to enact legislation to decriminalize rather than legalize prostitution by introducing amendments to the Revised Penal Code.
The Gabriela lawmaker is one of the authors of House Bill 4934, which seeks to repeal Articles 202 and 341 of the Penal Code. The bill is pending with the House committee on revision of laws.
"Our present laws seek to penalize only the women engaged in prostitution. Prostituted women are treated as criminals rather than victims of poverty and gender inequality. Our laws do not penalize pimps, bar owners and operators or those who pay to use and abuse these women," she said.
Under Article 202, prostitutes are defined as "women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct."
"Any person found guilty of any of the offenses covered by this articles shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200 pesos, and in case of recidivism, by arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200 to 2,000 pesos, or both, in the discretion of the court," it further states.
Article 341, meanwhile, states that a penalty of prision mayor in its medium and maximum period shall be imposed upon any person who shall engage in the business of prostitution. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)