Last Wednesday, Suneeta Mukherjee of the United Nations Food Population Fund (UNFPA) told those attending the annual UNFPA State of World Population Report in the Philippines that if drastic and immediate measures are not taken to retard the warming of the planet then women in developing countries would have to turn to prostitution to support their children.
Mukherjee explained that as the earth’s temperature rises so do the oceans, thus flooding farmland and driving peasant farmers inland. This, according to Mukherjee, leaves them unable to provide for themselves in any constructive way, thus leaving them no option but sex trade. This, Mukherjee added, would in turn cause the rate of HIV infection to soar thus bringing about a pandemic throughout the developing world. “Climate change could reduce income from farming and fishing, possibly driving some women into sex work and thereby increase HIV infection,” she told the conference.
Dr. Angel Alcala, the former environment secretary for the Philippines, seconded Mukherjee’s astonishing prediction. Alcala explained that as so much of the world’s poorest population lives in coastal areas, areas that will be flooded under a rising tide as the earth heats up, when those regions are left uninhabitable the farmers and fishermen earning a living there will seek safety farther inland. As the ability to sustain oneself by fishing or farming decreases, women will need to contribute more toward the income of their families in other than the traditional ways. As most of these women are unskilled, the privation caused by climatic cataclysm will leave women without any more dignified options and thus vulnerable to those tempting them with money for sex.
The third voice in this crazy chorus is that of Marita Rodriguez of the Centre for Empowerment and Resource Development, Inc., a Philippine-based non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to addressing the needs of fishermen and their families. According to an interview given by Rodriguez to the Inter Press News Agency, women will “bear the brunt of climate change.” She reckons that apart from domestic chores, the only thing women in poor countries are able to contribute is the help they give their husbands with the fishing trade, and once the global temperature rises and eradicates all the fisheries, the only thing left for them will be to work as prostitutes or maids.
It falls to the affluent countries of the world, the argument continues, to act responsibly and take those crucial steps that will stem the tide (so to speak) of industrialization. Activity in these nations is contributing disproportionately to the emitting of poisonous greenhouse gases hat are supposedly accelerating the pace of climate change, thus rendering life on so much of the planet unsustainable. The UNFPA recommends that in order to protect the homes and livelihoods of farmers and fishers currently living in the coastal areas of the developing world (and, ostensibly save their women and daughters from the horrors of the inevitable slouch into the global sex trade), then more prosperous nations should enact a few key pieces of legislation. For example, the congresses and parliaments of the West should “fully fund family planning services and contraceptive supplies…and assure that low income is no barrier to access;” and “integrate gender considerations into global efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”
It seems, then, that without prompt promulgation of these fundamental and indispensable proposals, then the affluent nations of the world are to blame for the inexorable and lamentable migration of poor women from the fisheries of the coast to the brothels of the interior cities.
Photo: AP Images