Respect the Strumpets

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Saturday, March 15, 2014

IN 1977, the United Nations passed General Assembly Resolution 32/142 declaring March 8 throughout the world as Women’s Rights and International Peace Day. It is now known as the International Women’s Day.

This day was first observed informally in the Philippines in 1982. On that day, an organization of peasant women, the “Katipunan ng Bagong Filipina (Association of the New Filipina) and the Metro Manila Council of Women Balikatan Movement Inc. led a protest march to the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City to oppose a proposal to legalize prostitution in the country.

Are we going to have a condemnatory attitude toward prostitutes? Are the prostitutes the evils in our society? Are they not women who deserve due respect in a country like the Philippines where we are always proud to say that we live in the only Christian country in Asia? Prostitutes should be afforded the same basic human rights that all persons are entitled to. That is my personal stand. You may not agree with me and I will defend your stand against me but I will not change my own stand.


In February 1977, the Asia-Pacific Women’s Consultation on Prostitution was held in Bangkok. The participants came out with a declaration to recognize the work, dignity, and human rights of women in prostitution.

I agree with former beauty queen and now a known feminist activist when she said in a rally that the stigma, largely attached to women in prostitution, only mirrors the low status and opinion confers on all women in general. I know that some women have become prostitutes because of necessity. Some have even considered it as a profession with mastery taught by experience. Who are we to publicly come out with our hypocritical ego and believe that we are the holiest? What do we know about the lives of sex workers?

In all stages of history there are prostitutes. They are known with many degrading names: bawd, bimbo, call girls, cocotte, concubine, courtesan, Cyprian, demimondaine, doxy, drab, fancy woman, fille de joie, gigolo, harlot, hetaera, lady of the evening, light-o’-love, Magdalene, nightwalker, paphian, paramour, party girl, quean, roundheels, scarlet woman, slattern, slut, streetwalker, strumpet, succuba, succubus, tramp, trollop, trull, white slave. Have I forgotten something? The experts could add to my list. Anything that pertains to a prostitute is always considered meretricious or tarty. You can dig on that.

Whenever there is news in the tri media (print, TV, radio or you may add social media) that a Philippine National Police special team made a raid on entertainment establishments and other suspected prostitution dens, there is always a howl of protests from the “holier-than-thou” groups. Policemen and local politicians (some only) are quick to give their reactions that they are instrumental in destroying the prostitute hives. (They could have been the cause also why some women have become prostitutes.)

Prostitutes (as alleged) who are caught during the raids could have been exploited, abused and dehumanized. I am not a reborn-several times-Christian but I believe that even the Holy Bible does not frontally downgrade prostitution. The Book of Joshua in the Old Testament singles out the harlot Rahab and the ladies in her whorehouse who were the only ones saved when the God of the Israelites destroyed Jericho.

In Matthew 1:2-7, the New Testament is even telling us that Jesus Christ is a descendant from a line of women that includes Rahab, and one of the ladies closest to his heart is Mary Magdalene, the “woman of the world” (a repentant prostitute). I did not just get it from Dan Brown’s “The Da Vince Code” but this could be found also in the works of Margaret Starbird (“The Woman in the Alabaster Jar”) and Elaine Pagels (“The Gnostic Gospel”).

I am not a lawyer for the prostitutes with a library of ancient papyrus writings loaded with the rights of the commercial sex workers. I am with you to reform our society (including the prostitutes). Let us find the best method and the best solution but not at their own expense. Deep inside us, there could be an answer. A prostitute we want to help could be my mother, your sister, or our relative; or a fellow Christian.*

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 15, 2014.


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