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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Calamities may force people into prostitution

To avoid this, relief should be strategic to help victims rebuild their lives

MANILA - More women and young girls may be forced into prostitution as families lost their properties and sources of livelihood due to the string of calamities that recently devastated the country, a women’s group said Wednesday.

In a press conference in Quezon City, the Coalition against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP) said that natural calamities, like tropical storm Ondoy and typhoon Pepeng, increase women’s and childen’s vulnerability to the flesh trade.

“We may see the effects of the disaster after a few months, when the relief is not enough and when the affected people are not able to rebuild their lives,” Jean Enriquez, executive director of CATW-AP, told Newsbreak.

Storms Ondoy and Pepeng have left hundreds of people dead, displaced thousands of families in Luzon, and caused billion-pesos worth of damage to properties and agriculture.

Enriquez expressed concern that women, especially those who are staying in evacuation centers, would be lured into prostitution after public interest in post-disaster operations dissipates and if the relief provided to the victims is not strategic.

“They will become more vulnerable if it’s just relief goods and there is no re-building and rehabilitation,” she added.

Pattern in Asia

Enriquez said Malaysia saw an increase in the number of cases of trafficking for prostitution after the Asian tsunami while women and children were sold as brides, servants and prostitutes after massive floodings in the Indian state of Bihar.

She said that in the Philippines, incidence of prostitution also went up during the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

The disaster, she said, forced women in the evacuation centers to sell themselves to local and foreign customers, especially in the cities of Olongapo and Angeles.

Enriquez, however, said that they were no exact figures on the number of women involved in prostitution during the aftermath of the Mt. Pinatubo since these cases were not well-documented and is based on testimonials of former commercial sex workers.

“Right now, the increase [in the number of women engaging in prostitution] has not yet been observed, but based on that, [there shows a] trend across the region that incidence of prostitution and trafficking increase after the aftermath of disasters,” Enriquez added.

Legislation needed

The group also called for the passage of House Bill 970 or the Anti-Prostitution Act, which seeks to impose penalties on businessmen involved in prostitution and provide support services to the victims.

The first version of the bill was filed in 2000. However, the bill, Enriquez said, “barely moved” in the Congress and is sidetracked since most politicians are already busy preparing for next year’s election and are using the disaster to gain popularity among voters.

“Apparently there is no urgency for legislators to enact such bill because prostitution is not even their priority issue,” said Belen Antoque, president of Lawig Bubai, a group composed of women who used to be involved in prostitution.

Enriquez said that in the absence of national laws, local governments should enact ordinances addressing this problem.

So far, she said, only Olongapo City and Quezon City have anti-prostitution local ordinances.Report by Jesus F. Llanto, Newsbreak.

as of 10/22/2009 11:13 PM

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

South India floods a result of climate change: Red Cross

Bangkok, Oct 6 (IANS) The floods in south India that have killed at least 350 people and made millions homeless are a result of climate change, said an expert in the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre.

The sudden shift from “extreme drought” to “extreme floods” in the region was in consonance with the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), head of the climate centre Madeleen Helmer said here Tuesday.

In its 2007 fourth assessment report, the IPCC had said that one of the consequences of global warming would be more extreme weather events - droughts, floods and storms would become more frequent and more severe.

Experts shadowing the Sep 28-Oct 9 talks here between 177 countries in preparation for the Copenhagen climate summit this December have pointed out that these predictions have been borne out by a series of disasters in Asia in recent weeks - floods in India and typhoons in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

“The problem with humanitarian aid agencies like ours is, what do you prepare for,” Helmer told IANS, “when after extreme drought, you have extreme floods? Climate change is telling us we have to prepare for both, that we are in an age of more uncertainty. It’s not easy and we’re not geared to do it, but we’ll have to be.”

Richard Rumsey, director of disaster risk reduction and community resilience in the international NGO World Vision, said: “The problem is that the system is now being so stretched to provide short-term relief, to respond to all these climate disasters, that there is little planning to build long-term resilience of people to face climate change.”

The NGO has seen its own budget to disaster response climbing in recent years.

“In 1998, 15 percent ($90 million) of World Vision’s overall expenditure was spent on relief activities,” Rumsey said. “Ten years later, it accounted for 35 percent ($644 million).”

As the number of climate disasters has climbed from an average of 200 per year in the 1990s to an average of 350 per year this decade, governments in industrialised countries have been forced to increase their response.

Brett Parris of World Vision pointed out that the percentage of overseas development aid (ODA) going for this “humanitarian response” had increased from 4 percent in the 1990s to 9 percent now.

Parris told IANS that the NGO had calculated that industrialised countries would have to pay developing countries $150 billion per year to help them adapt to climate change and to mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases that are leading to global warming.

The World Bank recently estimated yjsy developing countries will need $100 billion a year for adaptation alone.

“The current level of financing and the current pace of negotiations here is not good enough,” Parris said. “They will take the world well beyond a two-degrees Celsius rise in temperature. That will be catastrophic and we’ll need a lot more money to deal with those disasters.”

According to Parris, developing countries were perfectly right to demand that industrialised countries reduce their greenhouse gas emissions far more than they were willing to do now. “Strong (emission reduction) targets are what science demands, they are not bargaining positions.”

India and many developing countries have demanded that industrialised nations reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels

2009 Floods

The 2009 India floods affected various states of India in July 2009, killing at least 36 people in Orissa and 13 in Kerala. The most affected states include Orissa,[1][2][3][4] Kerala,[5] Gujarat[6] and North-East Indian[7] states.

Floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains have killed at least 36 people in the eastern Indian state of Orissa alone and inundated half a million homes.[2] On July 13th, seven people were killed and many others missing when a bus fell into a rivulet after being swept away by flood waters in Nayagarh district in Orissa. Nayagarh is 87 km from the Orissa state capital, Bhubaneswar.[8] The world famous Sun Temple at Konark is also water-logged, causing hardship for tourists.[9] The most flood affected districts in Orissa are Nayagarh, Cuttack, Ganjam,[10] Keonjhar, Koraput and Kandhamal. [1]

Several parts of Kerala was affected with the torrential rains with losses amounting to crores of rupees. At least 13 people in Kerala state are reported dead due to floods in the state.[11] The most affected districts of Kerala are Kannur,[12] Ernakulam[13] , Kozhikode, [14] Kollam[15] Thrissur,[16] Malappuram, Wayanad, Kasaragod and Alappuzha districts.[17] A number of relief camps are opened through out the state.[13] The Revenue Minister of Kerala state, K.P. Rajendran at Kozhikode has convened a meeting on July 20th, 2009 to review the damage caused by rain. District Collectors and officials of the various departments of Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Palakkad districts are likely attend the meeting.[18]

Over three lakh people have been hit after incessant rains in Assam[19] and other north eastern states of India.

At least 10 people, including four children and two women, were killed and nine others injured on July 27, 2008 when a wall collapsed due to heavy rains in the satellite township Noida of the national capital of Delhi.[20]