ERADICATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN THE PHILIPPINES As human beings, everyone is equally entitled to human rights without prejudices. We, especially women, have the rights to protect ourselves. Women need extra attention, protection and personal affirmation. They are the most vulnerable who need to be restricted from different types of abuse. Some historians believe that the history of violence against women is tied to the history of women being viewed as property and a gender role assigned to be subservient to men and also other women.
The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (1993) states that "violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men. ”
In the 1870s courts in the United States stopped recognizing the common-law principle that a husband had the right to "physically chastise an errant wife". In the UK the traditional right of a husband to inflict moderate corporal punishment on his wife in order to keep her "within the bounds of duty" was removed in 1891. With the malignant disease, namely “violence against women”, spreading around our country, the Philippine government, along with non-government organizations, takes actions to stop the abuse to the welfare and safety of the women.
Violence against women is one of the hottest issues the Philippines is currently facing. There are different trends in the number of violence against women cases from different government and non-government agencies. The number of VAW cases reported to the police increased sevenfold, from 1,100 in 1996 to 7,383 in 2004. In 2006 a total of 5,758 VAW cases were reported to the police. In 2008 the number of VAW cases reported to the police rose by 21 percent from the 2007 report. (National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, 2008)
One of the first worst forms of violence against women in the country is human trafficking. From 1993 to December 2002, there were around 1,013 Recorded Cases of Human Trafficking (DFA/CFO). 1999 accounted for 36. 1 percent of the case while 2000 accounted for while 2000 accounted for 13. 2 percent of the cases. Out of 460 responses, it has been noted that most of the victims came from Region III (26. 5 percent); Region IV (17. 8 percent); and National Capital Region (16. 5 percent). 64. 5 percent were women victims and 19. 1 percent of the women were forced into prostitution. 1. 8 percent were trafficked/smuggled to Asia-Pacific; 26 percent to the Middle East; and 18. 3 percent to Europe. (Philippine National Police Database on VAW, Quezon City, Philippines) The World Health Organization reports that violence against women puts an undue burden on health care services with women who have suffered violence being more likely to need health services and at higher cost, compared to women who have not suffered violence. Several studies have shown a link between poor treatment of women and international violence.
These studies show that one of the best predictors of inter- and intra-national violence is the maltreatment of women in the society. (WHO Factsheet Violence against women) Government agencies implement laws and programs to lessen the crimes concerning violence against women. One of the agendas of the Philippine government is to promote and protect the well-being of the women. Here are some of the agencies trying to do their best to solve the rising problem. President Arroyo signed into the law Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.
This comprehensive law seeks to make Filipino women less vulnerable to the illicit trade by imposing stiff penalties on anyone found guilty of any form of involvement in human trafficking and enjoining private entities to help in the effort. The law institutes polices to eliminate trafficking in persons, especially women and children, establishes necessary institutional mechanisms to protect and support trafficked persons and set sanctions and penalties to traffickers, those who facilitate trafficking, and those who buy or engage the services of trafficked persons for prostitutions. (NCRFW, Manila, Philippines, 2003)
Another law implemented is Republic Act No. 9262 or the Antiviolence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004. This was signed into law last March 8, 2004 during the celebration of “International Women’s Day. ” It penalizes all forms of abuse and violence within the family and intimate relationships (NCRFW, RA 9262: The Anti? VAWC Law, NCRFW, Manila, Philippines, 2004. ) Department of Health (DOH) institutionalized the Women and Children Protection Unit (WCPU), each WCPU is founded on a 24-hour quick response approach that delivers a personalized and comprehensive health care to survivors.
In collaborations with the Children Protection Unit and Women’s Desk of the Philippine General Hospital of the University of the Philippines, DOH developed a training program for the WCPU doctors to respond with the competence and sensitivity to the needs of women and children survivors of violence. The training program also enables doctors to do forensic work so that they can provide evidence and stand as expert witness in court. (DOH Performance Standards and Assessment Tools for Services Addressing Violence against Women in the Philippines, 2008)
Non-government organizations (NGOs) also carry out different programs and services for the welfare of the children. These organizations provide holistic programs, services and facilities to uphold the welfare of the women. Here are some of the NGOs. The Women’s Crisis Center (WCC), the first crisis center for victims/survivors of VAW, launched its National Family Violence Prevention Program in 1997 with 18 cities and municipalities all over the Philippines.
It is a community-based strategy of preparing family members to protect themselves against violence and manage peaceful resolution of conflict within the context of family relations. It aims to organize and mobilize multi-agency action groups in the prevention of family violence from the regional up to the barangay level. The WCC spent an average of P 6, 083. 30 per month per survivor. This includes food and transportation subsidy, medical assistance, therapies, utilities and other personal needs. (WCC, Quezon City, Philippines, 1989)
The NGO Community is credited not only for raising domestic violence as a public issue, but also for providing services long before the government recognized it. Among these were Lihok Pilipina’s Bantay Banay (Community Watch in Cebu City); the COMBAT-Vaw (Community-Based Approach to Violence Against Women) which was pioneered by the Women’s Legal Bureau and adopted by Quezon City. Also involved in the crusade against VAW are three legal groups, SALIGAN (Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panlegal), Women’s Legal Bureau and KALAKASAN (Kababaihan Laban sa Karahasan) which also provides shelter and counseling.
They carry activities such as Tigil Bugbog (Stop Wife Battering), a hotline for counseling, self-defense classes, paralegal training and research to establish baseline status of women’s rights against VAW. (Philippines CEDAW Report) With these different government and non-government organizations aiming to provide holistic programs, services and facilities to uphold the welfare of the children, the rate of violence against women in the Philippines would hopefully decrease. These programs would definitely increase public awareness, responsibility, and community involvement in child protection.