ROUGH CUTS| Confronting the prostitution problem

      TALIKALA, Inc., a non-government organization assisting prostituted women in Davao City, has raised an alarm in the increasing number of children into prostitution.

     Citing figures representing those that the organization has monitored, Jeanette Laurel Ampog, Executive Director of Talikala, said there were 75 young girls engaged in the oldest trade who have come to her office for assistance this year. In 2016, according to the Talikala head, there were only a total of 57. The number could be much larger if those doing their thing in the cover of darkness will be included, according to Ampog.

     She attributed the growing number of prostituted children to the demand for such services. Moreover, prostitution has also become a legal business using other enterprise names to serve as its fronts.

     Of course, the illegal trade of the flesh still flourishes as soon as the darkness of night sets in. And even during day time in such so public plces as San Pedro and Pelayo sts. right in the front doors of some dinghy and cricky hotels and inns.

     Ampog is correct as well that for as long as poverty remains stalking the majority of Davaoeno families, just like the illegal drugs business, prostitution will always be a strong enticement for women both children and adult.

     Talikala admits that as an NGO it can only do so little; that what it is doing now cannot even create a small dent on the almost impregnable wall of the prostitution problem in the city.

     So, it is just right that its Executive Director has challenged the city government to take a more pro-active strategy to prevent the rise in prostitution more so the involvement of children.

     Yes, the city government can provide a budget for programs related to preventing women and children in engaging in prostitution. And also the local government may implement projects that would help bring those already in the trade back to the mainstream with strong emphasis on erasing the tag of ill-repute on their names.

     Another thing that the city can do as proactive strategy of preventing the flourishing of the prostitution trade is to be wary of applications for business permits to operate SPAs, massage centers, videoke bars, inns, pension houses, and motels as well.

     By knowing the locations of these businesses the city officials issuing the necessary permits will already have idea what could be the real activities and services the applicants would be offering.

     Of course the businessmen can always argue that in the constitution one guarantee provided is the freedom of enterprise. So the declared business activities for inns, pension houses, videoke establishments, massage parlors also known as SPAs, and even motels cannot be questioned.

     This is where the role of the police will come in. The city should tap the police for sleuthing on the actual activities conducted in the premises of such businesses and that the city should be ready with appropriate action against any of the businesses herein-mentioned that will stray from the declared purpose in their permit application.

     The problem however, is whether the police or the concerned government officials are ready to implement measures that will stop, temporarily or for good, the establishment owners from continuing with their deviation?

     Why, because like the illegal drugs trade many of the establishment owners are also the ones walking with local government and police officials in the corridors of power.

     These concerned officials sure know which of these herein-cited businesses are masquerading as legal havens for prostitution, or where services of prostitutes are negotiated over bottles of beer and consummated in nearby inns, pension houses and motels.

     But will they have the guts to warn or at most stop the operation of the establishments? We doubt.

After all how many of these officials are regularly receiving…to be less harsh about it — cash and “in-kind” gifts from the establishment owners on regular basis to buy their protection?

     And perhaps the strongest argument that there is no way prostitution can be stopped is because it is a “profession” that had been referred to in the bible as the “oldest.”

     Unfortunately for Talikala, the bible also provides for both the prostitutes and the “collectors” of cash and “in-kind” gifts from operators of brothels, both legal and illegal, their route to redemption. And that is repentance of their sins. We believe they are fixated on that admonition.

     So, the NGO’s advocacy could indeed be a gargantuan mission that it has to undertake. And we strongly back its call for support from the city government if the latter is interested in cleansing the potentially undesirable tag of hosting so many children in the prostitution trade.

Posted in Opinion