Philippines - Davao City - Talikala Refuge
Prostitution of women and girls has long been a thriving industry in the Philippines. According to recent estimates, there are about 400,000 women and girls engaged in prostitution in the country. In Davao City, Talikala estimates that there are approximately 6,000 women and girls involved in prostitution, 20% of whom are girls under 18 years old.
Other reports into the sex industry have cited Davao City as one of the top 5 areas for child prostitution and sex tourism in the Philippines. Although the most vulnerable age for female victims was found to be 13yrs, there are documented cases of children as young as 10 years old forced into prostitution.
Surveys of sex workers in Southeast Asia have indicated that:
34% work to support poor parents
36% work to support husbands, boyfriends and siblings
33% reported that they had been subjected to violence or harassment
Well over 50% claimed to be victims of incest.
The behavioural consequences for young women and girls living in an environment of poverty are dire, often resulting in risky behaviour such as sexual activities, drinking, drug taking, gang membership, etc. They are more particularly exposed when they lack education both in general and on female reproductive health.
When a girl has the opportunity to be educated and healthy, not only does she benefit, society as a whole benefits. In general, educated girls marry later, have healthier children and take an active role in their communities to ensure the rights of other women are upheld.
Talikala, was created 28 years ago - it is a nongovernmental organization run by women for women. It provides support, advice, training, advocacy and counselling to women and girls who have been forced into sex trade in Davao City, Mindanao in the Philippines.
Since 2011, it has established partnerships with Local Government Units to implement programs in 7 Barangays (slum areas) of the city that target the welfare of the children of prostituted women in these poverty stricken slums.
These programs provide the following:
Direct services – Medical, Educational assistance.
Psychosocial development – e.g. therapy and counselling. Assistance in bridging the gap between parents and child when their relationships are estranged.
Talikala also provides professional development opportunities for the social workers, staff and barangay officials.
Access to Balay Banaag – a safe haven developed by Talikala for 16 girls at any one time who are children of prostituted women. These girls have literally been extracted from their vulnerable and dangerous environments. The centre is managed by two House Parents and provides a full range of support services including accommodation and care. 140 girls have benefited from this facility since its inception 5 years ago.
What Is Lenity Australia’s Involvement?
Lenity Australia has accepted an invitation to fully support the programs in 7 Barangays for the next 3 years. Based on their previous experience, Talikala has advised that our involvement should benefit the following:
175 boys and girls with educational, counselling assistance.
Approximately 200 children and a significant number of their parents will benefit from access to the psychosocial development programs.
The capacity building of the social workers, staff and barangay officials.
Lenity Australia sees its involvement as providing a positive opportunity to advance the war against poverty and gender equality.