LANAO DEL SUR (DWDD) – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), through its Field Office (FO) in Region XII, said that there is no truth to the reports on the alleged engagement in prostitution activities of women affected by the five-month conflict in the Islamic City of Marawi.
News circulated that some women in evacuation centers were forced into prostitution due to lack of source of income.
According to DSWD FO-XII Regional Director Bai Zorahayda T. Taha, social workers who already investigated the issue that women in the evacuation centers of Buru-un Fisheries and Maria Christina in Iligan City were engaging in prostitution activities. The social workers have made the rounds of in the evacuation centers and the women among the internally displaced persons (IDPs) were indignant against the allegations.
“Our field staff spoke at length to the managers of the evacuation centers in the cities of Marawi and Iligan and they did not hear of or discover any cases of women being forced to prostitution,” Dir. Taha said.
“We are monitoring the evacuation centers and more importantly the welfare of the women and children. We have 289 women volunteers now engaged in religious activities in evacuation centers,” Dir. Taha said.
Dir. Taha also said that the FO also enrolled many of the women in the DSWD’s five-day cash-for-work program to provide them a source of income.
Meanwhile, a staunch supporter of women’s rights, DSWD Assistant Secretary for the Office of the Secretary Group Aleli B. Bawagan said that the DSWD fully supports measures to raise the public’s awareness regarding the necessity to expose and fight violations against women’s individual and collective rights.
“It is important to inform all Filipinos that violence against women is a social injustice and a crime. We must empower women to speak up against harassment or all forms of violence, not only in Marawi City but all over the country. Women being forced to engage in prostitution because of extreme poverty and want is a form of violence,” she said.
Asec. Bawagan added that the DSWD will again participate in the 18- Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW). The campaign will run from November 25 to December 12 to raise public awareness on VAW as a public issue of national concern.
Update on hygiene kits
Aside from the cash-for-work assistance, staff members of the FO XII are now distributing additional hygiene kit items for the affected locals of the Marawi siege.
Earlier, the Department distributed hygiene kits despite the kits being incomplete because families already needed them. The Department said that there was a delay in the delivery of items from the supplier.
The Department pledged to continue to monitor and provide appropriate assistance to the affected locals and improve its process of providing relief. SMS DSWD /MCAG