This is one hard reality that could happen if the global health pandemic brought about by the Corona Virus Disease 2019 (CoViD 19) will continue for an indeterminate period of time.
We mean the apprehension of Talikala-Davao Executive Director Jeanette Ampog that some women may be forced into prostitution just to be able to survive the joblessness that is prevailing in the current quarantine regime. Talikala is an organization helping former women prostitutes find livelihood other than what they were used to so that they can live normal lives again.
In a news feature that came out in one of Davao City’s local papers which is now back in the streets, the Talikala-Davao executive said she entertains this apprehension because many women have fallen into the worst of time because of the prevalence of CoViD 19.
We believe that the observation of the Talikala-Davao executive is valid. After all, societal history tells us of incidents that when the stomach demands something to fill, especially when the stomachs of family members are involved, there are those who will sacrifice honor and dignity and do atrocious things just to satisfy the extreme need. In the Filipino language, it is the oft-repeated excuse of “Kapit sa Patalim.”
Apparently referring to some women in Davao City who belong to the most marginalized sector, Ampog said that many of them lost their informal means of livelihood after the government ordered everyone to “Stay Home Stay Safe” to prevel massive infection by the deadly CoViD.
Adding to these women’s “misfortune” many of them are among those skipped in the distribution of relief goods and other forms of assistance from the government. This is because they lack the proper identity and credentials as residents of this and that barangays. Thus when list of prospective beneficiaries of assistance is submitted by barangay officials to the agencies of government tasked to manage relief and financial aid distributions, their names are nowhere to be found.
Because of this situation the Talikala-Davao official is worried that the women in that informal sector could be enticed to engage in prostitution in order to tie them over in these hard times.
Of course the local government was quick to assuage the fear of the organization for prostituted women. Officials of the CSSDO are saying that they have allocations for relief assistance to women in the informal work sector and are trying to reach them where it is feasible in terms of formal identities and location of their residence.
And the officials of the local government agency tasked to distribute the aid packages are saying that even those presently in the practice of prostitution, be they women, men or members of the LGBT community, are also being reached out.
Well, this news about the move of the local government to help women in the verge of falling into the flesh trade just to make both ends meet in this time of the pandemic, should be a welcome development for Talikala-Davao.
And for those still in the practice of prostitution who suddenly find themselves clientless because of the quarantine and the curfew, the city’s assistance could be one intervention where they can think of starting a new life.
After all, with the strict restriction of people movement and having lost clients for their services depriving them of “income” for the last three going four months, they manage to survive.
May be it is about time that they forget about stigma of their profession and approach Talikala for assistance in accepting the painful truth about their life.
In the process, we can be certain that slowly, though painfully, the prostituted women can shift to a trade that can see them through in the present economic crunch and lead them towards new and honorably gainful lives.
Of course, it is our take that the assistance of government to this disadvantaged women sector should not just be limited while the pandemic is prevailing. It has to be sustained in some ways that may not anymore be relief or financial in kind.
That is, if government really wants to obviate the possibility of the pandemic breeding more prostitutes when it is over.
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