Republic Act 10158 or an act decriminalizing vagrancy which amends Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code was signed by the President on the 27th of March 2012. The said law also iterates criminal punishment to prostitutes which angered Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP). PNoy, by penning R.A. 10158, actually affirmed that prostitute women are criminals.
Nothing is offensive when the law decriminalize vagrancy (a state of being homeless or unable to settle in a single place) but making prostitution a criminal act is like “crucifying women”. According to GWP Representative Emmi De Jesus, the law is anti-women and anti poverty by punishing the victims directly instead of the pimps (“bugaw”) and the customers who profit from prostitutions.
Does this mean that GWP tolerates prostitution? I believe that instead of objection, they should educate our women not to become victims themselves. There are laws already that reprimand pimps and prostitution customers such as the Anti-Trafficking in Person Act of 2003 or R.A. 9208. So maybe, it is about time to cut off the supply. As they say, there no pimps and there are no customers if no individuals are willing to sell themselves.
Forced prostitution is a different case in which our law makers must consider. Those who fall on this type of trap must be protected instead of being castigated.
But one great question from the public is that; are male prostitutes covered on the said Act? Section 1 of R.A. 10158 defines prostitutes as women who, for money or profit, habitually indulge in sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct. Would this mean that men who offered sexual services for money are not punishable of the said law? If that is the case, then women are singled out again or the bill authors might unwittingly overlooked the possibilities of the existence of the male counterparts. Or, I may be wrong with my terminologies, they’re not prostitutes, they are callboys.