In a period of democratic and informative era it is unfortunate to still discuss the fight for equal rights and to push for more action and compassion to end violence against women. What took us Filipinos so long for violence and gender inequality to be taken account of? Is humanity still fighting the same battle since the civilization had begun? – The battle for both morality and equality.
Abuses Suffered by Women
Data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) states that “Filipino women aged 15 to 49 has experienced violence.” This also means that Filipino women “at least” once in their lifetime experienced the different types of violence; physical abuse, sexual abuse and discrimination. Let us not forget that in the year 2016, UNICEF recorded an estimate of 100,000 victims of child abuse which was strengthen by National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) by giving the data that girls who were abused are outnumbered by boys (2-1) range from ages 10 to 18.
On a day to day basis, Filipino women also experience violence by being “cat-called” in public places, mainly on streets as well as being harassed sexually by friends, co-workers, classmates and even strangers. Since the types of violence against women are given by many variations, it will be easily explained if we divide them into a cluster of ‘physical and emotional abuse’.
Physical Abuse – intentional act of causing injury of trauma to another person.
- Domestic Abuse – an abuse by one against another in a domestic setup such as in marriage. Incidents include of sexual violence, controlling, threatening and degrading.
Sexual Abuse – an unwanted sexual activity using force, threats or taking advantage of a person. A sexual act with no consent.
- Rape – an act of sexual intercourse/attempt with an individual without his/her consent.
- Sexual harassment – a type of harassment that is an unwelcomed sexual requests and other verbal/sexual behavior.
Emotional Abuse – a behavior in a way to control, isolate or threat a person. A form of abuse may include statements, threats and actions.
- Verbal abuse – the use of language that is offensive, embarrassing and threatening.
- Social Abuse – a behavior resulting in isolation of a woman in a particular set-up.
Also, there is this socioeconomic abuse which is less obvious than physical, sexual and mental abuse since cultural practices are the culprits for such beliefs and tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation.
Existing Laws to Protect Women
Sex Ratio stands at 102 males for every 100 females. In this country dominated by men, how can we protect the Filipino women on a long term basis?
The country has established laws to protect women such as Republic Act 9710 – The Magna Carta of Women, which recognizes, protects and promotes the rights of our women. Also, Republic Act No. 9269, also known as the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act of 2004 – a protection order for the purpose of preventing further acts of violence against women and their child by granting necessary needs. Another law, the Republic Act of 7877, also known as the Anti-sexual harassment act of 1995 which protects both sexes.
There are a high number of laws protecting our women but the question is, have these laws been effectively followed? How far do these laws eliminate discrimination and violence that women had endured for a long time?
Unfortunately, despite the Anti-Rape law of 1997, rape in the Philippines remains the most frequent type of sexual abuse and which is followed by incest rape – 98% of rape victims are women and 33% incest – data that we should all worry about.
Organizations Helping Fight Violence against Women
With an alarming increase of violence experienced by women, there are organizations who support women, to extend rescue and provide long-term relief to the victims of violence. Here are a few of them:
- GABRIELA Women’s Party – composed of 200 organizations all concerned to the welfare of the Filipino women. GABRIELA is focused on issues that affect women by being a victim of physical and emotional abuse.
- Save our Women – is another organization that aims to protect women and spread awareness about the undeniably realities of our women’s day to day battle to harassment and discrimination.
- Women’s Crisis Center – an organization that protects abused women by providing an environment where they can interact with fellow survivors through recreation programs, counselling and therapy.
A good number of non-profit organizations had increased in the country, established to protect the victims. These organizations survive only by the participation of volunteers, donations, sponsorship and funding. Volunteering is very much appreciated by these organizations since in this manner. An extension of help by interaction with the victims and survivors are supported by psychological studies that is said to provide long term solutions.
In 1997, Administrative Order I-B or the “Establishment of Women and Children Protection Unit in All Department of Health Hospitals” was established in response to both women and children victims of rape, violence and other related cases. Due to the law, Department of Health partnered and extended the rescue to the University of Manila, The Child Protection Network Foundation and other local government units. DOH is expected to provide medical assistance to victims and is obliged to refer the victim to a government medical officer for both mental and physical examination – protected by RA 7610: Special Protection of Children against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.
There are many things to consider what causes these horrifying acts of rape, incest, discrimination and harassment. We are still a long way in identifying and eliminating the deeper roots of this violence. As of now, all that we can do as a nation is to protect and give justice to the abused and oppressed. Understanding such issues will educate us as a nation and as an individual hoping that one day, each of us would participate and provide compassion and rescue to the victims, that all of us will altogether fight for peace and equality.