October is the second of the “ber” months before the year draws to a close. October is also the month when women raise the issue of commodification and the situation that has perpetuated gender inequality.
Eighteen years ago, former Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte declared October 5 as Day of No Prostitution, through Executive Order No. 07. The EO aims to raise the public’s awareness on the issue of prostitution.
The Integrated Gender and Development Division of the City Mayor’s Office has implemented provisions of the EO, working closely with non-government organizations in awareness campaigns and economic programs for prostituted women. Over the years, these programs may have found traction in terms of providing women with skills to eke out a living but the bigger campaign on trafficking is still a struggle.
Jeannette Ampog, the executive director of Talikala, an NGO providing psycho-social and livelihood alternatives for women in prostitution, said that there has not been much improvement over the years on the plight of the women. Trafficking remains and has even become more sophisticated and difficult to track because of technology. What is more disconcerting is the observation that the children themselves pimp other children through text messaging or social media. Transactions are now made easier and faster.
Maybe we should explore addressing the needs of vulnerable women and children who are not yet in prostitution because the push factors are poverty and lack of access to basic social services. To strengthen the recovery and reintegration program for women and children in prostitution, government should allocate funds for programs that would strengthen family values and economic sustainability. All these would go a long way in making EO 7 work in the city.