Recent amendments to Article No. 202 of the Revised Penal Code (circa 1932) repealed those “anti-poor” provisions on vagrancy. No longer will a person loitering in public, wandering about without visible means of support, or an idle person with no reasonable means of subsistence be arrested or penalized. Pending cases for vagrancy shall be dismissed and people currently incarcerated for vagrancy shall be released. Even ruffians and pimps, or those who habitually associate with prostitutes are absolved of any liability. However, the provision criminalizing so-called “prostitutes”, defined as “women who for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct,” was retained.
The primary consideration should be a unique perspective on law-making which should change the mindset of people. Legislation tackling prostitution should address the demand-side and curb the demand by punishing even the “attempt” to buy services. Clients and customers should also be the ones criminalized and prosecuted, not the prostituted women and children. More importantly, prostituted women and children should be looked upon as the “victims” that they really are.
There are several takes on prostitution legislation, and one strategy is to actually “legalize” the sex trade as it is in the Netherlands, Australia, Germany and Thailand. However, this would entail an in-depth discussion about sexuality issues within the State, including sexual practices. It would require the introduction of clear measures to regulate the industry, that would include the implementation of programs and services for prostituted women and children “after the harm has been done”, i.e. issuance of Identification Cards, regular medical-check-ups, accessible health information and services.
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