anti-prostitution bill sent back to technical working group

June 10, 2006 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

The House Committee on Revision of Laws, chaired by Siquijor Rep. Orlando Fua, Jr., decided in a meeting last Wednesday, June 7, 2006, to send back the consolidated Anti-Prostitution Bill to the Technical Working Group. Rep. Roilo Golez and Rep. Domogan, among others, proposed that the draft consolidated version be brought back to the Technical Working Group to answer questions on the culpability of the prostituted person. In short, they are questioning one of the premises of the bill: that a prostituted person is a victim of violence.

We filed the Anti-Prostitution Bill (HB 2419) to shift the blame from the prostituted person to the perpetrator and the patron of prostitution. It does not seek to legalize the industry; rather, it wants to criminalize the industry and not the prostituted persons, the only ones being penalized under our current laws.

The bill seeks to:

  • Decriminalize prostituted persons by repealing anti-vagrancy and white slavery provisions of the Revised Penal Code. This shifts culpability from the victims of prostitution to the buyers and perpetrators (pimps, organizers, etc.) of prostitution.
  • Affirm the principle of equal protection by protecting anyone, regardless of sex, gender and sexual orientation, from prostitution.
  • Impose harsh penalties on the perpetrators and patrons of prostitution. The penalty for all acts of prostitution is 20 years imprisonment, one to two million pesos in fines, and mandatory human rights education. If the perpetrator or patron is also a victim of prostitution, the years of imprisonment is reduced to 15 years imprisonment and the fine is lowered to five hundred thousand to one million pesos. Mandatory human rights education is also imposed to all perpetrators and buyers of prostitution.
  • Give mandate to the national government to develop “healing programs” for victims of prostitution. It creates the National Anti-Prostitution Council to enforce the law, with DTI, NEDA and DOLE as members to address access to opportunities for prostituted persons.
  • Establish trust fund from confiscated properties of sellers for the state’s anti-prostitution education and livelihood programs.

To punish prostituted persons is to negate the exploitation that governs that prostitution industry. Women in the prostitution industry are oftentimes victims of trafficking and other forms of violence – to put impose culpability on them is a form of injustice that reflects a prevailing bias against women.

The Committee on Revision of Laws has not scheduled a TWG for the bill yet. But this recess, we, along with anti-prostitution advocates like the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), would try to convince members of the committee to expedite the approval of the bill.

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Entry filed under: AKBAYAN in Congress, Women and Feminism.

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