Report: ‘Carton girls’ back in operation

By Julit C. Jainar |August 17,2016 - 11:00 PM

Long after the Mandaue City government moved to stop the operations of the so-called “carton girls” at the city’s North Reclamation Area (NRA) in 2008, fresh reports reaching City Hall now alleged that the “carton girls”, a group of prostitutes that lay on empty cardboard boxes, are back in business.

Reports reaching Mandaue City Mayor Gabriel “Luigi” Quisumbing claimed that prostitution has once again reared its ugly head at the NRA, particularly in areas surrounding the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), courtesy of the “carton girls”.

The term “carton girls” was coined nearly ten years ago from the empty carton boxes which served as beds for those who wanted to avail of the sexual services of young prostitutes in the dark allies of the NRA.

In exchange for the sexual favor, a customer was charged between P50 and P250. An extra P10 to P20 was added as rental for the cardboards plus P50 for the “bantay” or guard.

On orders of the Mandaue City government then, police rounded up suspected prostitutes and conducted nightly patrols in the area until it was declared free from the illicit sexual trade that was taking place there.

Following reports of its resurgence, Mayor Quisumbing yesterday ordered the City Social Welfare and Services (CSWS) to check on claims that rampant prostitution is now back at the NRA.

“We’re verifying it through the CSWS as well as the camp leaders,” Quisumbing said, referring to those in-charge of about five thousand Mandaue City fire victims from Barangays Guizo and Mantuyong that have sought shelter at the CICC since March.

According to the report from Bisdak Pride, a non-government organization which advocates for LGBT equality and HIV awareness, the “carton girls” were operating close to the CICC and had mostly taxi drivers for customers.

Bisdak Pride executive director Roxanne Doron said that the emergence of the “carton girls” had prompted them to conduct a feeding program and preliminary activity for HIV screening at the CICC in coordination with the Mandaue City government and students from the University of San Carlos.

The group, Doron said, conducted talks with the fire evacuees about the dangers of HIV and how to prevent it.

“There is a planned info drive and condom distribution for those aged 18 years old and above probably this coming Sunday,” Doron added .

Bisdak Pride is also scheduled to conduct voluntary HIV screening on CICC’s temporary residents next week.

For his part, Quisumbing said he wanted to meet with Bisdak Pride to discuss the reported resurgence of the “carton girls”.

“They also indicated their willingness to conduct several programs in CICC so we are working on that,” Quisumbing said.

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