Why do Filipino women leave the Philippines



2.2. The sex industry in the Philippines

Jean Enriquez's experience

Ms. Enriquez began with a description of the economic problems in Asia as they have appeared from the point of view of women in recent months. It was important to her to state that the current Asian crisis was more than just a financial disruption. Rather, it is a question of a crisis of the entire economic model of the globalized system of open markets. The crisis extends far beyond the effects of speculative deals. The current economic policies have proven to be extremely vulnerable and at the same time hollow in relation to agricultural and local production. It is precisely the fact that the Asian economies are heavily dependent on the inflow of foreign capital that causes this vulnerability. Now a debate has arisen in the Philippines, in which the question is whether the current policy should be continued. Should we continue to rely on foreign direct investment or on economic growth that is fed by local resources. The "radical option" of limiting the cross-border movement of capital is also being discussed. This option naturally calls the International Monetary Fund (IMF) into action. In the course of the discussion, this problem has turned out to be an ideological question.

For women, the effects of the current crisis turned out to be particularly serious. The neoliberal discourse never differentiated between the different statuses of men and women anyway. This applies both to those within the market and to people operating in the informal economy. The economic discus

Sion is blind to the historical fact that women have always served social security. They worked in the fields instead of a paid job. If they found employment in the formal sector, they would be forced to work without the usual social benefits and at lower wages. Many would also be driven to work overseas - not only to increase family income, but also to ensure the steady flow of hard foreign currency into the Philippines. Women continued to work in health and education despite the fact that the government, in agreement with the IMF, is constantly cutting budgets.

Many Filipino women are - not only, but also as a result of the crisis - being forced to leave the country as unregistered workers. Human traffickers and illegal recruiters used this situation as fertile ground for their activities. To date, 94% of all Filipino workers in Japan are women. Most of them worked in the entertainment industry. Since July 1997, the Australian Embassy in the Philippines has issued 690 visas for spouses or fiancées. Many Filipino women also come to Germany this way. Ordering companies for these women have dodged into the Internet. This is also due to the fact that in 1990 the Philippines tightened the laws on trafficking in women and sexual services.

Experience from nationwide campaigns has shown that the most popular export route is through Malaysia. The only thing the girls have to be able to do is swim in order to get from the ship to the shore. The experience of social workers in Manila has also shown that regardless of the economic crisis, men's demand for sexual services is constant. She comes mainly, but not exclusively, from the middle class.

Unfortunately, the photo of the print version (page 23) can
cannot be played in the online version.

In this context, we should also remember the 22 Philippine ports that the US Navy currently uses for maneuvers, but also for "Rest and Recreation" be available. The Philippine government seems to have forgotten how many thousands of sexually exploited women were affected by the former military presence of the United States in the Philippines. Since the withdrawal of the regular US troops in 1992, prostitution has increased in other parts of the country. The boomtowns, where industrialization policies quickly took hold, were particularly affected. These cities now have their own international airports. Business people fly there to do business, but also to 'relax'. These cities are also the largest recruiting places for young women and girls who then work in the Japanese entertainment industry.

It is estimated that there are currently 400,000 prostitutes in the Philippines, including 75,000 children.

Fortunately, the discussions about prostitution in the Philippines have now gone beyond purely health, regulatory or moral issues. It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a causal relationship that drives women into prostitution. This is primarily of an economic nature and is based on the poverty of those affected. Usually these came from rural areas, were poorly or not at all trained and mostly very young. The diverse relationships between the formal economy and prostitution also support this line of argument.

The recommendations derived from this economically oriented argument are diverse. Most importantly, however:

  • to provide young women with more training opportunities and
  • To offer income and employment alternatives.

However, as long as the male demand for sexual services persists, the problem will in principle continue to exist. In this context, the male point of view, which the women instrumentalize, is also essential.

As long as the sexually active, aggressive male behavior is defined as natural, the situation cannot change permanently. Prostitution is an extreme form of female discrimination.

Prostitution is an industry with sales of many millions of dollars. It stimulates male sexuality and confirms the man's self-image that he has a right to sex. In the Philippines, a road worker earns 500 pesos and has to spend 200 pesos on rent. As long as this remains the case, the 50 percent of women who want to get out of prostitution have little chance of doing so.

The photo of the print edition (page 24/25) can unfortunately
cannot be played in the online version.

Enriquez concluded by making a few remarks about the inadequate strategies the Philippine state is currently pursuing to curb prostitution. The programs did not only fall short in the area of ​​the legislature. The Filipino prostitution legislation only criminalizes women. The crisis intervention programs and other services for prostitutes willing to leave are not only very limited in a material sense. There is also a lack of well-trained social workers. Current policy also lacks the interlinking of medium and long-term strategies. The intervention programs would not be supported with long-term measures. A preventive policy is urgently needed. Prostitution urgently needs to be legalized in order to improve working conditions for women and protect them from violence. Instead, the prosecution should focus on the traffickers, bar owners and pimps, but also on the clients. Educational measures aiming at a long-term change in gender relations and promoting mutual respect between men and women are also important.

© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | June 2000