Friday, October 19, 2012

Legalize prostitution, UN urges PH

The Philippines and other Asian countries should decriminalize sex-related jobs in order to provide sex workers access to basic rights and to control the spread of sexually transmitted infections especially HIV, a new United Nations report said. "The legal recognition of sex work as an occupation enables sex workers to claim benefits, to form or join unions and to access work-related banking, insurance, transport and pension schemes," the report dubbed "Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific" showed. It added that "in decriminalized contexts, the sex industry can be subject to the same general laws regarding workplace health and safety and anti-discrimination protections as other industries." Decriminalization, the report said, involves the repeal of laws criminalizing sex work, being clients to sex workers or enganging in activities associated with sex work. It should also repeal laws that require mandatory testing or treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other STIs, as well as laws that allow detention of sex workers for rehabilitation or correction. The report stressed that Filipino sex workers remain highly vulnerable to STIs including HIV as well as sexual and physical abuse due to stigma. This, even as it noted that the Philippines has introduced laws aimed at preventing HIV and protecting the rights of infected patients. These laws offer "limited protections" to sex workers, the report said, amid "the continued enforcement of criminal laws against sex workers and difficulties in accessing the justice system to enforce these rights." Sex work as well as businesses engaged in sex are illegal under Philippine laws, with penalties up to 30 days imprisonment for first offense and up to six months imprisonment for repeat offenders.