Philippines: exploited women slam government

Philippines: exploited women slam government

Douglas, Carol Anne

MANILA-Women attending the First National Conference of Victims-Survivors of Prostitution, held in Manila in October, charged the Philippines’ government with committing human rights abuses. The women said that local governments, the Philippine National Police and the armed forces protect pimps and owners of businesses such as bars that promote prostitution, and that government officials themselves often use women in prostitution.

Seventy-five formerly prostituted women from around the country attended the conference. They said that police officers often abuse prostitutes, extorting sex or money from them. Belen Obeja, who works with a group that helps prostituted women, said that her group has faced death threats when it has filed complaints against police officers who abuse prostitutes.

The women also complained that local governments issue business permits to businesses that are known to promote prostitution. They also criticized local government services for not keeping prostitutes’ health reports confidential.

The conference attendees urged the government to approve a bill that would decriminalize prostituted women and criminalize pimps, brothel owners, and customers (as legislation in Sweden does). The proposed legislation also would provide support services for survivors of prostitution.

The women also said they would not support politicians who support businesses that promote prostitution.

-info from Coalition of Women Against Trafficking

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