By: Rina Jimenez-David, Philippine Daily Inquirer
March 20, 2012
Do you know that if you were to venture out of your home in your house clothes, stand on a street corner and appear as if you have “no visible means of income,” you can be arrested for vagrancy?
And if you are a woman and police suspect you of being a prostitute, but have no proof that you are, they can haul you into jail on a charge of vagrancy? And if you are so unlucky as to meet a corrupt or sleazy police officer, you can be forced to fork over a certain amount and/or provide free sexual services in exchange for your release?
“Vagrancy” is an archaic charge used by police to bring in people from the street who they feel are public annoyances or threats. As an activist, I have heard many times about comrades hauled into police stations on the charge of “standing [around] without permission.” That is how vague and sweeping a crime like “vagrancy” is.
No wonder the police resisted moves to get “vagrancy” stricken off the law books. Though it’s aimed at getting poor people off the streets, it’s been mainly used against women, who complain that the law turns them into “gatasan” or “milking cows” for police in search of a quick and easy buck, or an easy lay.
Read full article @ opinion.inquirer.net