Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Response to "Legalizing Prostitution"

A letter to the editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer:

While I hold Manolo Quezon in high regard, I find that he has not adequately thought out his position and arguments regarding legalized prostitution.

In the main, Mr. Quezon's view of prostitution is simply that of a service willingly undertaken by consenting adults as an economic undertaking. Such a sanitized view fails to take into account the harsh realities of the so-called sex industry. Consider that in many instances, women and children are forced into prostitution by violence.

Unfortunately, there is a dearth of recent statistics. However, some studies from the past can still shed light on the issues: Of the 1.5 million street children, 60,000 are prostituted (ECPAT 1996). According to the DSWD, the annual average increase of prostituted children is 3,266. The Philippines is the fourth country with the most number of prostituted children (Intersect, December 1995).

In 1997, the Inquirer carried a story that summarized: "There are 375,000 women and children in prostitution in the Philippines. Most of them, aged 15 - 20, are from semi-rural and urban backgrounds and have been victims of incest and sexual abuse."

Legalizing prostitution effectively means legalizing the framework of violence within which it takes place.

Consider, too, the broader ramifications. Prostitution nowadays is an international enterprise which constitutes a significant part in trafficking, especially of women. The Netherlands, which Mr. Quezon holds up as a shining example of legalized prostitution, is a prime destination for human trafficking because of its sex trade.

These realities are complex and harsh. Legalizing prostitution will not make them go away, and may in fact worsen an already bad condition.