DAVAO CITY – Some children victims of prostitution now also serve as “pimps” for other children.
Jeanette Laurel-Ampog, executive director of women and children advocacy group Talikala said children pimp themselves by texting or using facebook chat to meet customers.
“It’s the customers who ask the prostituted child to find others,” said Ampog.
Ampog said the children, from nine to eleven years old, are enticed because they are paid from 1,000 to 1,500 pesos, higher than rates paid to adults.
Ampog said they have no exact count as to how many children engage in prostitution but Talikala is currently assisting 43 who are now studying in alternative learning schools.
“Some are found in streets, some are in school and do it part-time especially if they have projects,” said Ampog.
Ampog said that children become vulnerable to prostitution because they “leave their homes if they do not feel safe or if they experience hunger and abuse.”
Ampog said that 80% of prostituted women and children have experienced sexual abuse in their homes.
She said that while they educate the children who are victims of prostituion they urge the government to solve the “root causes” of the problem.
Shirlyn, a member of Lawig Bubai, an organization of prostituted women helping and empowering each other, said “we want jobs which give us dignity, so we can hold our heads up even if we have not been educated.”
Mary Ann Artil, spokesperson of the women’s alliance Gabriela Southern Mindanao said that the upcoming International Day of Prostitution in October 5 “should be remembered everyday.”
“The increase of the prices of basic commodities, the deprivation of the right of women and children to access health services, to education and to dignified jobs, happens everyday,” said Artil.
She added, “this means everyday should be a day of action.”
Talikala data also show that there about 1900 prostituted women that are “licensed” or are working as dancers, guest relations officers and massage attendants and who are required to submit monthly Pap Smear results and occupational permits or “pink cards.”
Ampog said that the number of prostituted women in the city is more than 3,000 and her group is currently assisting 314.
Ampog said that Talikala as an organization have been campaigning against prostitution for several years and have hired several prostituted women as staff.
Ampog said the local government also recently followed them and hired one as a community organizer.
She said that a “comprehensive intervention” which means helping prostituted women finds jobs and involving the family in the process may help but there should be “follow-up and monitoring.”
Ampog said that despite the interventions “as the economic crisis deepens, the number of the victims of prostitution continue to rise.” (davaotoday.com)