BAGUIO CITY—Through the lens, an organization advocating sex workers’ rights is aiming to stop discrimination against them.
A photo competition that would depict the condition of sex workers was launched here on Thursday during a forum on sex workers and prostitution.
The contest is conducted by the Women Hookers Organizing for their Rights and Empowerment (Whore), with support from the United Nations Development Program.
The top 10 winning entries will be exhibited at Bangkok Culture and Arts Center on April 10.
Contest guidelines require participants to provide a written consent from parents or legal guardians if the subjects of their photographs are minors or are under 18 years old.
The contest, which revolves around the theme, “Zero stigma, zero discrimination,” runs from Feb. 10 to March 20. Entries should be
e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The top entry will receive P25,000.
The chair of the Philippine Sex Workers Collective, who wanted to be identified only as “Tex,” said they chose photography as an avenue to bring out issues concerning sex workers because they believed that photographers have liberal minds.
“Photographers are artists who we believe are open-minded,” he said.
He said information gathered by their organization showed that the number of male and female sex workers in the country could reach about 500,000.
Tex said most of these sex workers blamed poverty for engaging in the flesh trade.
But more than opening the eyes of the public to the plight of sex workers through photographs, Tex said they wanted to raise awareness on how society could eliminate the stigma and discrimination.
He said many sex workers were single mothers and their children suffered from discrimination when they were exposed to the public.
“Once an 8-year-old child was bullied by his classmates after it was revealed in a Parents-Teachers Association meeting that his mother was a sex worker. This is just one of the sad stories that we hear. Because of the stigma, a lot of these sex workers leave their hometowns and settle in other provinces. In Baguio City, sex workers are not from here, they are either from the Visayas or Mindanao,” he said.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, in a visit here on Thursday, said Senate Bill No. 2341, which she sponsored, sought to change the public perception and treatment of people exploited in prostitution “as victims of the system and not as criminals.” Desiree Caluza, Inquirer N. Luzon