Dumaguete City Boulevard: A Breeding Ground for Prostitution

Prostitution is a never ending war like abortion which is considered as an immoral activity in the society. Dumaguete is known for its women who sell sexual services which has been going on for years now. In October 1997, the Marina Clinic of the SUMC organized these women into the Magdalena group. They studied the prostitute’s psychological as well as their socio-economic status (Flores, 2001, p. 3). Persons prostitute themselves when they grant sexual favours to others in exchange for money, gifts, or other payment and in doing so, use their bodies as commodities.

Prostitutes may be of either sex, but throughout history the majorities have been women, reflecting both the traditional socioeconomic dependence of women and the tendency to exploit female sexuality. Prostitution in Dumaguete is the highest increasing illegal activity in the city which takes place in the boulevard and cause tourists to flood the area. This paper presents the discussion of local prostitution happening in the City of Dumaguete and the reason why this business exists nowadays. The first part of the research paper presents the overview of the topic which is Local Prostitution.

Next, the paper presentation will discuss the main causes why women commit themselves to this business and be followed by its effects. The third part of the paper presentation is the discussion of the arguments against the local prostitution as a high increasing illegal activity. And to end the paper presentation, an interview with sex workers and a Marina Clinic member was conducted to add their criticism against the subject. The paper claims that local prostitution in Dumaguete is an increasing illegal activity that needs to be stopped.

Prostitution is one of the branches of the sex industry. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being permissible but unregulated, to a punishable crime or to a regulated profession. Estimates place the annual revenue generated from the global prostitution industry to be over $100billion. Prostitution is the business or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and is a kind of sex worker, and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms.

Many women earn their living as sex workers in one or another branch of the sex industry such as pornography, nude dancing, telephone sex, computer pornography and prostitution which categorized women into different ugly stereotypes such as being drug addicts or disease carriers. Women who entered the sex industry are women at work–supporting children as single parents, trying to save money to go to school, surviving economically in a job market that underpays women at every economic level.

As we look straight to the lives of these prostitutes, being an economic failure causes women to enter sex industry. For these women to survive their daily lives, women decide to commit themselves in that kind of industry, they do not want this choice but it is the last option that they could have. Today, there are different forms in which prostitution thrives such as street prostitution, bars, brothels, akyat-barko, “massage parlors”, escort services, sex tourism, cybersex, local and international sex trafficking and even on the internet (McTavish, 2012).

Brothels are establishments specifically dedicated to prostitution. In escort prostitution, the act may take place at the customer’s residence or in a hotel room, or at the escort’s residence. Another form is street prostitution. Sex tourism refers to traveling especially from developed to underdeveloped nations, to engage in sexual activity with prostitutes. Some rich clients may pay for long term contract that may last years. Wherever they find evidence of human culture, they find evidence of prostitution.

When the earliest known human societies emerged in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia, the sex trade evolved alongside temples, customs, markets and laws. Beginning in the third millennium B. C, the Sumerians, the first major inhabitants of ancient Mesopotamia, worshiped the goddess Ishtar, a deity that would remain a constant throughout Mesopotamia’s Babylonian and Assyrian empires. Ishtar was the goddess of love and war, symbolized by the planet Venus, and was born anew as a maiden every morning only to become a ‘whore’ every evening – the etymology of the word lying in the Indo-European root meaning ‘desire.’

Ironically, Mesopotamian religious practices gave birth to the prostitution trade, as women in Ishtar’s service would help men who offered money to her temples with the ‘sacred’ powers of their bodies. Achieving a priority of communication with the goddess from their fertility, only women enjoyed this religious position. Thus Ishtar temples became knowledge centres concerning birth, birth control, and sexuality. Priestesses became the nurses and sacred sex therapists of these early societies.

Men of all rank could hire these women and, in turn, make an offering to the goddess from whose temple the prostitute came. The king would also take part in certain sacred sex rituals with the high priestesses in conjunction with grain harvests: the fertility of the earth was secured through a ritual that celebrated the fertility of the womb. The king, regent of the earth, and priestess, regent of the goddess, coupled in this highly symbolic manner that celebrates the sexual process that brought both grain and people into being. Thus Ishtar became known as the protector of all prostitutes.

Prostitution, or at least the religious prostitution involved in these sacred sex rituals, existed without taboo or prohibition, as evidenced in some of our species’ earliest literary works (Fanni, 2013). Drug addiction, severe poverty, low self-esteem, and emotional problems are the known causes why people enter prostitution. The most important reason however is money. Some of them don’t have decent jobs, need to support their family or some other specific things. But these reasons aren’t enough for a woman to become a prostitute. Someone might have introduced her into the business of prostitution (Thio & Taylor, 2012, p.192).

Prostitution is very much related to poverty, by the chronic unemployment and the lack of economic opportunities, it indirectly reflects our country’s poor economic performance and poor priorization of needs and goods. Because the government cannot provide job to everyone especially to those uneducated ones, these people cannot be able to sustain their daily needs to survive life. Prostitution has never been their choice, yet this is the remaining option to women who need to earn money to fulfil their own personal needs and to support their family.

If there are only employment choices for the poor and uneducated, there would also be a decrease in women who are entering prostitution. Another reason why women become prostitutes is because they lack parental guidance. Irresponsible parenthood has also been cited as one of the causes why young boys and girls are driven into prostitution. The City government and DSWD created a task force which gives these women some livelihood incentives, spiritual formation, and theatre arts workshop, peer education and counselling (Flores, 2001, p. 3).

The family is the one who extends to the family member the benefits of moral guidance, self-discipline, and religious instruction. Parents also have the duty to know their children’s friends and their activities in order to prevent the latter from falling into bad company. But the fact is, most prostitutes had their first experience from a direct family member. This means that the first who violated their body is a family member; it could either be the father, uncle, step-father or even their brother. Women choose to become prostitutes because their parents were no longer there to protect them.

Women have been tricked into prostitution with guarantees of decent job opportunities either in the cities or abroad or have been kidnapped and then forced to work as a prostitute. Not all prostitutes come into the profession because of the idea that they are going to earn money and provide sex satisfaction for the men. Some are victims of illegal prosecutors who promised to give them good jobs but unfortunately they were tricked and pushed to work for these recruiters as prostitutes. These women have become victims of human trafficking. There are a lot of known effects when women, men, and children involve themselves in prostitution.

Our study focuses on three of these known effects which are Sexually Transmitted Diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and low self-esteem. First, we will discuss STD; Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), also referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STI) and venereal diseases (VD), are illnesses that have a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of sexual behaviour, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. Prostitution is physically harmful to women in prostitution. STDs are alarmingly high among women in prostitution.

Second, unwanted pregnancy might also occur among prostitutes. Unintended pregnancies are pregnancies that were unwanted at the time of conception. There are a lot of methods in which unwanted pregnancy could be avoided; it could be by the use of contraceptives or Withdrawal (Pull Out Method). But if prostitutes get pregnant, most of them turn to abortion. Some might push through with their pregnancy but will later on send their children into adoption. Third, Low self-esteem connects directly to prostitution and porn. It’s easy to prey upon and manipulate a person of low self-esteem.

Prostitution need not necessarily cause low self-esteem. It might do so if the sex-worker feels that he or she has entered prostitution for economic reasons, because they have no other option, or because they have been forced into it against their will. For many clients, low self-esteem may be a factor in their decision to use a sex-worker. Their guilt afterwards may only worsen their self-esteem issues. A life of prostitution may reduce the chances of having an intimate relationship outside of work and limit the possibility of being able to respond sexually with a partner in an authentic way.

In the Philippines, there are some arguments against the oldest profession. The law makers suggest that prostitution must be legalized such as in some countries in Europe in which the sex industry had been legalized. The recent International Labor Organization (ILO) which urges the government to officially recognize sex industry has not elicited much reaction to date. The report actually wants the government to apply labor regulation and standards “Where prostitution is recognized as legal works.“

But some has the stand that prostitution must never be legalized in the Philippines. Under the Revised Penal Code, prostitution is classified as a crime against moral, punishable by a fine for the first offenders and jail sentences and fines for repeaters. Franklin Llaguno, in a column in another paper, notes that the ILO Report may give new life to the case of decriminalization of prostitution because as it stated in the Revised Penal Code, prostitution is classified as crime against oral and punishable and jail sentences for the offenders.(Manila Bulletin, 1998).

The Gabriela Women’s Group strongly disagreed in the Legalization of Prostitution. According to them, prostitution is a human rights violation. It is among the recognized forms of violence committed against women and children. It is not work or occupation that women undertake by choice. Viewed in the Philippine setting, it is a situation, most often characterized by physical abuse, exploitation and discrimination which women and children endure when they are forced by circumstances to be prostituted.

They also added that the legalization of prostitution is tantamount to the legalization of exploitation and of the violence that commonly exist within the system (Philippine Star, 1998). Legalization creates a situation where prostituted women and children are legally subjected to slave-like conditions. The notion that patrons or clients are legally buying sexual services does not in any way dignify or uplift how society looks at women and children. Another argument against prostitution is the rampant child prostitution.

Children nowadays are pressured by their parents to work on mainland cities in order to alleviate poverty. Most of these children work as prostitutes and are being sold in brothels or on the streets to foreigners. If the child prostitute doesn’t reach her daily quota, he/she would be beaten by the recruiter or pimp. Father Shay Cullen helped smuggle a television camera inside a jail that showed hundreds of children as young as 5 locked in cages stacked a half-dozen high. Most were child prostitutes, caught in that country’s rampant sex tourism trade.(Kielburger & Kielburger, 2007).

Trice stated that “these traffickers and pimps, they know what they’re doing, such as the manipulation, the brainwashing,” she said. “They make the girls believe that the only way the girl can be successful is through (the pimps) direction. Otherwise, the girls are worthless and they have no value” (Trice, 2011). The researchers strongly believe that prostitution must not be legalized in our country because more and more tourists and even fellow Filipinos would continue to look at women as mere sex objects.

Innocent children should not be victimized by this kind of profession. The researchers conducted an interview on 2 female sex workers named Ludy and Bebot, and to an acting coordinator of the SU Marina Mission Clinic, Dr. Fe Sucip-Wale. Dr. Wale stated that the main causes of prostitution are poverty, low education, broken homes, and sexual abuse. Health is affected when women get into the sex trade; they develop sexually transmitted diseases and are vulnerable to HIV / AIDS. However, medical assistance is available for these women if they acquire STDs.

These women can go to the City Health Office for examination and treatment for free or subsidized. The age bracket of women who does prostitution in Dumaguete City ranges from 15-50 years old. They usually have an income of P5, 000-P15, 000 per month. Statistically, there are about 100-200 prostitutes in the whole city (Wale, 2013). When the prostitutes were asked the same questions, they stated that “katong una, katong wala pa mi na organize, ni tungtung mi tanan ug 50, mga 19-50 ang edad sa mga gatrabaho ug ingun ani, depende ang among income, depende rapud ang customers.

Kadaghanan sa mga kauban namu diri naay mga anak. Pwede man mu bulong ug laing trabaho pero lain-lain man gud ug sitwasyon sa pagpuyo sa pamilya. Naa mi live-in partners ang uban mga balo, ang uban naay bana pero magbulag ky manakit man. Naay mga customers pud nga sakit kaayu mang-storya, abi ingun ani nalang amung trabaho sayun nalang kaayu ilang panglantaw. Naa man puy uban nga mu sabot sa sitwasyon. Pare-pareho raman ang among mga customers, daghan mang Pilipino ug mga foreigners pud.

Mas daghang foreigners basta November-February kay mao man nay tig bakasyon sa mga foreigners diri; uban ky muhatag ug pagkaon o tip. Naa man pud mi mga tambal like suppositories, pills ug uban pa. Pero ug seryoso na jud ang sakit, muadto mis City Health Office o ang uban mu adto jud ug private nga doctor. ” (Bebot & Ludy, 2013). In conclusion, this research paper has shown that prostitution is the highest increasing illegal activity in Dumaguete City which is occurring in the boulevard and causing tourists constant coming in the area.