[Dash of SAS] Prosti-tuition
The oldest profession in the world can count students as laborers. These are girls who moonlight as prostitutes or escorts to pay their way through school.
Prosti-tuition, as it is called, has earned its own entry in the urban dictionary. Typically, peak season for this tuition-payment scheme is during enrollment period or right before final exams. With social media, the age-old profession has begun to operate on a technological scale. There’s no more playing cat and mouse with the police or the risk of running into schoolmates while waiting at a dark street corner. Girls can study while bookings pile up on their social media profile, website or mobile phones. (READ: Prostitution advances in a wired world and Sex at a drop of tweet or like )
Rappler talked to MJ and Myla (real names witheld) to learn how they balanced school work with the demands of their job - and how prosti-tuition is a means to an end.
At 15, MJ was a runaway with nowhere to go. Her mother had just found out that their stepfather had another family and attempted suicide.
“Why did Mama want to die just because of what Papa did? Why didn’t she want to live for me, for my sister?” MJ asked herself.
Hurt, betrayed and very angry, MJ went on a drinking and partying spree with her girlfriend, Tuti – all at Tuti’s expense. MJ was enjoying the free ride when Tuti told her where her money really came from.
“Tuti didn’t have anymore money and told me she would have to go on a ‘walk’ to get more. She told that she was a PSP, a personal services provider, and a ‘walk’ is when she has sex with a guest or a “J” and gets paid for it. I didn’t have any money, I didn’t want to go home so I decided to get into that as well.”
Although she was no longer a virgin when she did her first “walk,” it didn’t make things any easier for MJ. “I already felt weird about myself after that first time,” she said.
But it was the money that kept her going back to accepting guests.
“I got used to earning easy money. In just three hours, I could make P3,000. In a day, I could make as much as P10,000,” said MJ, who in a pensive voice added, “I don’t like the feeling of not having money and I also know that I don’t have to wait for it—so why should I? I know that I can make money just like that by calling one of my regular J’s.”
But it’s always the “after” that MJ has to deal with.
“My friends and I who are into this, go out to bars a lot to drink, mostly to forget. So the money goes rather quickly, too.”
It is also when they’re at these bars that MJ sees other girls her age and can’t help but wonder what life would be like for her if she had not become a PSP.
“Tang-ina, kung hindi napasok dito, (If I didn't do this) would I be like them? Would I have a normal life?” is a nagging question in MJ’s mind.
At 18, “normal” is totally different for MJ.
It’s a mix of Js and not knowing what kind she will meet that day. It’s also a constant battle with herself.
“For some J’s, it’s all about money. When you see each other, yun na. Babuyan pa yun iba, they’ll make me do despicable things. There are some J’s who will talk to me, ask me questions about myself and will even put the money in my bag instead of handing it over to me because they’re embarrassed.”
MJ continuously tells herself that it’s just all about the money and what it can buy for her. And right now, that’s an education.
When she first started “walking”, MJ had to quit school. Now she’s using the money she earns to pay for her tuition as a fourth year high school student.
While she doesn’t “walk” everyday, she does find herself doing it more when it’s tuition time, when there are school programs and supplies that need to be paid for.
“I regret getting into this life. I really really do. But I know I have to deal with it to get through high school and then college. I really want to go to college,” said MJ, earnestly. “I don’t want to be like this forever. What keeps me going is thinking that five years from now, I can finish college and be an office girl. I won’t ever have to meet another J again.”
Claire Padilla, Executive Director of EnGendeRights, explained,“Prosti-tuition and it points to the need for a comprehensive response to this problem. There should be study now, pay later programs, as well as livelihood programs these girls won’t have to go back to their practices.”
For MJ, there is no other life for her at the moment. Her mother who thinks that she gets her money from a rich older boyfriend has stopped supporting her. She pays for all her school expenses and also helps out her real boyfriend. MJ keeps her life as a PSP a secret from him and tells him that the money they use for their dates comes from her cousin in Kuwait.
“It’s really hard to be doing what I do and then finding someone with a good background, a good family to accept me. I can’t help but feel insecure. Would he leave me if he found out?”
“And I can’t even begin to explain how painful it is for me to have to continuously betray him and have sex without someone else and for what? Just for money,” MJ spat out.
“Even if I tell him I’ll take care of paying for dinner or whatever, I can’t help but think to myself that the money came from me doing all sorts of things with another man.”
“But what other choice do I have? I know I’ll have to keep on doing this, at least until I finish college. Till then I will just have to keep telling myself that they can buy my body, but not my dignity.”
In the next Dash of SAS, Ana Santos writes about another young woman's experience.
PSP: Personal Services Provider
Guest or J: a man who solicits the services of a PSP
Field Report: PSPs are rated by Js on a scale of 1 to 10 on areas like face, body, attitude and how well they are able to perform oral sex. These field reviews are posted on their profile page or in the forums and serve as “references”.
“Walk”: The term for arranging a date with a PSP. “Can I talk you for a walk on…?”
Cancellation Fee: When the J meets the PSP and decides that he doesn’t want to pursue the arrangement (for example, she may not meet his expectations), he will be asked to pay a certain percentage of the price as a cancellation fee to cover the PSPs transportation expenses and opportunity cost at losing other guests.
Transportation Subsidy: Apart from the pre-arranged fee of anywhere from P2,500 to P5,000 for 2-3 hours, the J will also be asked to pay for or subsidize transportation.
GFE: Girlfriend Experience. For two hours or however long they are supposed to be together, the PSP will act like the J’s girlfriend and will cuddle with him, talk to him about his day and basically, act like she cares.
CIM: Cum in mouth
CIF: Cum in face
BBBJ: Bareback blow job (will perform oral sex without a condom)
MILF: Mom I’d Like to F*ck (some are as young as 18 years old and have a child/red already) – Rappler.com
Editor's note: A previous version of the article cited a statistic taken from a newspaper article that reported "about 10-15% of every 1,000 students resort to prosti-tuition." This statistic is erroneous according to the International Justice Mission (IJM). We also said that Julius Bungcaras is the head of the IJM. He is, in fact, a Community Mobilization Coordinator in IJM's Cebu Office. We regret the error.