“I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy.” Steve Martin
By Alex P. Vidal
Sex workers are not supposed to beg for customers openly in public like beggars and street children.
It’s the job of their pimps to look for clients so they can negotiate for higher pay and be protected from abusive patrons.
The pimps do the selling and talking, while the sex workers or prostituted men and women do both the soft and hard labor.
And this should be done secretly or in places not frequented by minors.
Aside from being illegal, prostitution also scandalizes the women. It assaults the woman’s moral fabric and degrades her person.
But this was not the case in Iloilo City.
Since last year, we’ve noticed that sex workers, some of them minors, have scattered right there in the vicinity of the historic Calle Real in downtown, City Proper from 9 o’clock in the evening up.
They personally approached males who passed by the dark sidewalks in the intersections of Ledesma and Valeria Sts., Ledesma and Quezon Sts., and in alleys within the Plazoleta Gay rotunda.
The more aggressive of those “pink ladies” acted as pimps for themselves, blocking male pedestrians and proposing to perform sexual services for a certain amount.
Sex workers in this area included homosexuals disguised as women.
They have virtually transformed Calle Real into a large prostitution market.
Some taxi, jeepney, tricycle and pedicab drivers, as well as sidewalk vendors, also sometimes dabbled as their pimps.
They scattered and disappeared temporarily when patrol cars passed by. And back again. Even barangay officials in these areas did nothing to stop them.
These transient commercial workers have become the eye sores in Calle Real. Sexual acts were sometimes performed in “standing position” nearby for a quickie. Fees ranged from P200 to P600 for “instant action.” The amount increased if the client took the sex worker to the motel.
Efforts to round them up last year and prevent them from selling their bodies openly by teaching them skills and livelihood training proved futile.
The Task Force on Moral Values Formation (TFMVF) trained them to make soap, household and personal products, and how to process fish, meat and other food they could sell.
Lack of funds failed to sustain the training as they did not get a small capital to start a livelihood as promised by the city hall.
Now that the city council has approved an ordinance which prohibits public solicitation for sex, authorities will now have the reason to lower the boom on them.
The ordinance was approved during the regular session of the city council August 19. The ordinance also covers the pimps or handler or anyone who offers sex for money in public.
It prohibits any person “to transact, engage, perform, portray and display any lascivious conduct before the public.”
Penalties for violation are: First Offense – a fine of P1,000 or imprisonment of 15 days at minimum to 30 days at maximum, or both fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court, and undergo moral counselling by a competent government agency like DSWD;
Second Offense – a fine of P2,000 or imprisonment of one month and one day to six months, or both fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court, and undergo moral counseling by a competent government agency like DSWD; and
Third and subsequent offense – a fine of P3,000 or imprisonment of six months and one day to one year, or both fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court, and undergo moral counseling by a competent government agency like DSWD.
We expect sex workers and their pimps to feel the heat and embrace a more decent livelihood that will not endanger public health and morals.