MANILA, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- A United Nations (UN) report which called for legalizing prostitution as a way of preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases in Asia and the Pacific was condemned on Monday by a Philippine non-government group advocating women's rights.
Gabriela, the National Alliance of Women in the Philippines, said prostitution is the "worse exploitation that can be done to women."
The UN said in its report titled "Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific" that removing legal penalties for sex work allows HIV prevention and treatment programs to reach sex workers and their clients more effectively.
"Prostitution can never by any means become a profession for women (as it violates) their rights. This UN report is widening the door for women's rights violation," said Gabriela deputy secretary general Gert Ranjo-Libang in a statement.
Libang said the UN was "naive to think" that making prostitution legal will guarantee access of those in prostitution to their basic rights.
"Even factory workers in the Philippines are deprived of their rights under the Labor code. They remain underpaid, working in very bad conditions, without access to health care, and prevented in forming unions," she said.
Libang said poverty is a major reason behind the increase in the number of those who go into prostitution and the spread of HIV.
"It is the poor women who are pushed into prostitution. Mass education is the one way of preventing the spread of preventable diseases including sexually transmitted illnesses such the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)," she said.
The UN report released on Oct. 18 noted that "there is no evidence from countries of Asia and the Pacific that criminalization of sex work has prevented HIV epidemics among sex workers and their clients."