Should the Philippines legalize prostitution?
By: Ricardo Saludo Published on November 28, 2012
Ric Saludo’s CenSEI colleague Pia Rufino contributed this column.
A recent United Nations report has recommended decriminalizing prostitution to help curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, especially the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
However, unlike reproductive health, another UN advocacy, legalizing prostitution has united leaders in government, the Church, and civil society in opposing the idea.
According to “Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific” from the United Nations Development Program’s Asia-Pacific Regional Center, positive public health and human rights outcomes have been achieved in jurisdictions that have decriminalized sex work.
“States should move away from criminalizing sex work or activities associated with it,” the study argues, referring to criminal penalties for purchase and sale of sex, management of sex workers and brothels, and other related activities.
Examining laws affecting rights of sex workers and HIV responses of 48 countries in the region, the report finds that “criminalization increases vulnerability to HIV by fueling stigma and discrimination, limits access to sexual health services and condoms.”
Moreover, it says that “criminalization legitimizes violence and discrimination against sex workers (particularly from law enforcement authorities and health-care providers). Criminalization makes sex workers reluctant to report abuses and makes authorities reluctant to offer protection or support to sex workers.”
Decriminalization would enable sex workers to organize within their communities and register their organizations, obtain identification documents so that they can fully access services and entitlements, engage in advocacy and respond to the health and safety needs of their peers.
“The legal recognition of sex work as an occupation also enables sex workers...