Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Child prostitution

October 20, 2009

Lately, I was asked by a friend, a graduating nursing student, to help him in his research about the knowledge, attitude and practices among commercially sexually-exploited children on sexually transmitted infections and proposed possible teaching interventions. Like any research involving reproductive health, I readily offered my limited resources and services.

For what use are the limited resources and time if not shared? Only government officials won’t do that, with the exceptions to really some dedicated public servants. I can only count nine among them, all found in the House of Representatives.

With all honesty, I was disturbed that a non government organization in Cebu called FORGE Inc. documented at least more than a thousand children involved in prostitution and counting; because it is really far-fetch from my mind as to the extent of children involved in the flesh trade. I have several close friends involved in the trade (hetero females and males and homos et. al), and never in our constant collaboration did we mention children involved in it. I wonder why.

What is truly disgustful is the fact that rarely government officials talked or even discussed issues on child prostitution. A lip service will do, you hear nothing. Clearly, since this children cannot vote, we cannot hear from them deliver social services.

Ah, but they cannot even provide basic social services for those who can.

Rizal’s lessons are now forgotten saying the youth (let’s include the children) is the hope of our country. If a significant portion of our children are involved in prostitution, is their hope left? Others are sniffing rugby or are part of a web of gang involved in anti-social activities.

Typical of bureaucratic governance in our island-nation, we only hear our policy-makers throwing stones at each other’s glass houses. And the oppressed and exploited people are left scrambling for broken glasses, literally. Exponentially, others are left moving heavens ward looking for genuine social change, which is inevitable.

It is a challenge for all. If a nursing student can find a great knowledge and commitment in conducting research to children involved in prostitution, it is really a great leap forward and offers hope, however dim. I also wish other developmental worker and institutions, the corporate social responsibility of business entities, should also invest in keeping our children away from the flesh trade and giving them the kind of direction they rightfully deserve. For in every child’s tarnished future, is ours too.

With all man-made and natural catastrophes coming our way, the fuss about the need for a reproductive health bill is gaining strength despite the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church and its lackeys. The urgency of the bill that should be passed is gaining momentum and the Church’s stand remains isolated than ever. Like I said before, the world is not flat. And in order to deepen one’s faith, one should question it, before saying ‘amen’. And so, the reproductive health bill is equally important to the children involved in the flesh trade.

Even if these are just band-aid solutions to a deep-rooted, class and historical problem, but it can help for our tactical relief and satisfaction.

For the reasons they involved in the flesh trade is mind-boggling poverty. All of the respondents undeniably said so.

Most of their parents are not working or if working as a tricycle/trisikad driver, with no regular income to support the entire family. It is either their mother or father has just been laid-off from work or they were displaced in the countryside and end up scavenging in the cities.

Hence, they involved themselves in prostitution – the only way they can help buy their daily food for the entire family – said to be the oldest profession. Whoever said that should bear in mind that the long standing solution to a problem like prostitution is actually our continuing (well, in fact protracted) fight for economic equality and social justice.

How do we provide solution to this problem vis-à-vis child prostitution?

Genuine agrarian reform should be implemented and let the parents of this children return to the countryside to till the land and improved their lot without fear of land-grabbing and militarization.

A government supportive of and exist based on the peasantry’s cry for land is a government that can stand despite the onslaught of imperialist globalization policies. Hand-in-hand, providing security of tenure and just benefits to our workforce and establish a truly Filipino industry that exists solely and for the purpose of providing the needs of the state and its people will deter their children (our children) to involved themselves in the flesh trade.

Historically, past and present regimes backed by powerful countries, ignored genuine agrarian reform and providing job security and rightful benefits to workers. Historically too, the oppressed and exploited people including their children are dissatisfied with their current conditions that they find refuge in educating themselves so they will provide radical solutions to their age-old woes.

The problem on child-prostitution included.

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