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Prostitution in the Philippines

 Prostitution in the Philippines is illegal, although somewhat tolerated, with law

enforcement being rare with regards to sex workers. Penalties range up to life
imprisonment for those involved in trafficking, which is covered by the Anti-
Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. Prostitution is often available through
bars, karaoke bars (also known as KTVs), massage parlors, brothels (also known
as casa), street walkers and escort services.
 The "Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study" conducted in 2002 by
the University of the Philippines' Population Institute and Demographic Research
and Development Foundation found that 19% of young males had paid for sex
and 11% had received payment for sexual favors.
 In 2013, it was estimated that there were up to 500,000 prostitutes in
the Philippines, from a population of roughly 97.5 million. Citing a 2005 study,
Senator Pia S. Cayetano asserted in her “Anti-Prostitution Act” (Senate Bill No.
2341 s.2010), that the number of people being exploited in prostitution in the
Philippines could be as high as 800,000. The bill was reintroduced in 2013 as
Senate Bill No. 3382, and in 2015 as Senate Bill No. 2621.
Prostitution in various regions
 Prostitution caters to local customers and foreigners. Media attention tends to focus on
those areas catering to sex tourism, primarily through bars staffed by bargirls. Cities where
there is a high incidence of prostitution are Olongapo City, Angeles City, Legazpi
City in Albay, Pasay City and Subic Bay in Zambales, with the customers usually foreign
businessmen from East Asian and Western nations.
 Prostitution in Olongapo City and Angeles City was highly prominent during the time of
the U.S. military in Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Base, respectively. When Mount
Pinatubo, a volcano, erupted in 1991, it destroyed most of Clark Air Base and the United
States closed it down in 1992.
 Some of the associated prostitution trade closed with it, but when the mayor
of Manila, Alfredo Lim, closed down the sex industry area of Ermita in Manila during his
first term starting in 1992, many of the businesses moved to Angeles, finding a new
customer base among sex tourists.
 Other tourist areas such as Cebu have also developed a high-profile prostitution industry.
 Online dating sites have a large role to play in encouraging this trend.

 There is no one single reason for the widespread

prevalence of prostitution in the Philippines. Poverty is
but one reason, as cultural factors and the attitude of
people toward money and the social acceptance of
prostitution play a major role.

 Poverty
Per the Philippine Statistics Authority, in 2015 the Philippines had
a poverty incidence of 26.3%. While this figure has been decreasing
over the past few years,this still is one of the reasons why girls and their
families turn to prostitution to enable the family to maintain a certain
level of lifestyle. A large number of girls who come to Angeles tend to
be provincial, especially from Samar, Leyte and Visayas, having seen
their friends live a better life because of their job in the prostitution
industry. A comparison, however, made with other countries which
have higher poverty statistics but do not have such rampant
prostitution, reveals that poverty is just one reason given, with the
reason below ("Attitude toward money") being equally important.
 U.S.Naval and Air Force Bases
Poverty is but one reason, as cultural factors and the attitude of people
toward money and the social
Prostitution started around Clark Air Base in Angeles City since the early 1960s, when
the base assumed importance because of the Vietnam war. During the 1970s, the main
street of Olongapo City had no less than 30 girlie bars catering to the needs of U.S. Navy
troops visiting Subic Naval base. The city acquired the pseudonym "Sin City".
The American authorities supported the testing of the prostitutes for STIs by the local
health authorities. Without the licience issued with these examinations, the prostitutes
were prevented from working. Angeles City and Olongapo health authorities passed on
photographs of sex workers who had failed STI tests to the US Bases.
The closure of the U.S. bases in these two places did not change the scenario much —
it only changed the clientele. Fields Avenue near Clark (Angeles) continued to grow as a
center of the sex tourism industry, under the umbrella of "entertainment" and "hospitality
industry". The girlie bars at Olongapo were closed down in a major drive by the then
governor Jane Gordon; they merely shifted, however, to the neighbouring town of Barrio
Baretto which contains a series of at least 40 bars which act as prostitution centers.

 Single Unwed Mothers

Some females join the prostitution industry after
they become single unwed mothers.The reasons for this vary —
unpopularity of artificial contraception in the Philippines,
inadequate sex education, delays in implementing birth control
legislation and a machismo attitude among many Filipino males. More
than half of the children born every year in Philippines are illegitimate,
and the percentage of illegitimate children is rising at the rate of nearly
2% annually.
Enacting the Anti-Prostitution Law:
Amending Articles 202 and 341 of
the Revised Penal Code (RPC)
 This policy brief provides the rationale for amending
Articles 202 and 341 of the Revised Penal Code on
Prostitution and White Slave Trade. It also presents
recommendations on how to address the system of
prostitution in the Philippines by providing legal
protection and support services for its victims and shifting
the criminal liability to those who exploit people in
 Article 202 of the RPC as amended by R.A. 10158 provides:
“Article 202. Prostitutes; Penalty. – For the purposes of this
article, women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual
intercourse or lascivious conduct, are deemed to be prostitutes.
Any person found guilty of any of the offenses covered by this
article shall be punished by arresto menor or a fine not exceeding 200
pesos, and in case of recidivism, by arresto mayor in its medium period
to prision correctional in its minimum period or a fine ranging from 200
to 2,000 pesos, or both, in the discretion of the court.”
Notably, the above provision focuses law enforcement and
legal sanctions exclusively on prostituted women. This is clearly an
affront to women as it continues to criminalize prostituted women,
while letting the customers and the pimps go unscathed.

 The 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that “the State values the
dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for
human rights” (Article II, Section 11). It also states that “the Congress
shall give highest priority to the enactment of measures that protect
and enhance the rights of all people to human dignity, reduce
social, economic, and political inequalities, and remove cultural
inequities by equitable diffusing wealth and political power for the
common good”(Article XIII, Section 1).
 Magna Carta of Women (MCW) or RA 9710
 RPC Article 341 on White Slave Trade, as amended by B.P. Blg. 186
 The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act or RA 9208 as amended by RA
 An Act Decriminalizing Vagrancy or RA 10158
 Quezon City Ordinance No. SP-1516, series of 2005