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Violence Against Women & Children in the Philippines On the Rise; WeDpro Calls for Collective Action

Author's name: 
Igor Dela Pena
Manila, Philippines

More and more women in the Philippines are being abused and subjected to acts of violence, with one in five women aged 15 to 49 found to have experienced physical violence, while one in ten women have experienced sexual violence.

This finding, a result of the National Statistics Office’s National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), was shared by WeDpro in the end-of-project conference for The Red AVP (Anti-Violence Project), short for Private and Public Faces of Violence Against Women: Addressing Domestic Violence and Trafficking In the Urban Poor Communities and Entertainment Centers of Angeles City and Olongapo City.

WeDpro noted that cases of violence against women and children have risen over the years, despite the passage of Republic Act (R.A.) 9208 in 2003, which sought to eliminate and punish human trafficking and established the necessary institutional mechanisms for the protection and support of trafficked persons, as well as R.A. 9262, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, which granted the government the right to intervene in case of household violence or abuse against women and children.

Because of these alarming data, WeDpro, with the support of the European Union, embarked on The Red AVP, which identified factors constraining the effective implementation of anti-trafficking and anti-violence against women and children (VAWC) laws in Angeles City and Olongapo City. The project also endeavored to build the capacities of stakeholders to address the identified factors hindering the protection and fulfillment of the right against trafficking and violence.

“The implementation gap in this country continues to remain particularly glaring,” noted Lila Ramos Shahani, Assistant Secretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. “Violence against women and trafficking are overt manifestations of gender inequality in the Philippines and its prevalence in our patriarchal culture.”

WeDpro’s research report “Surviving Violence and Trafficking: Stories of Women & Youth of Angeles & Olangapo Cities”, a result of The Red AVP, determined factors that have hindered the implementation of anti-violence and trafficking laws. Among these are the lack of support mechanisms, both material and human resources, in barangays and LGUs; the lack of fiscals in Family Courts and the ensuing inefficiency of the government’s prosecution service; political constraints such as the change of leadership in LGUs and lack of women’s organizations that sustain anti-VAWC programs; and beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate violence such as the community’s view that abused and trafficked survivors are “willing” victims.

To hurdle these challenges, WeDpro determined that that barangays, local government units (LGUs), civil society groups, the media and the community must all work together to stop violence against women and children.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Loretta Ann “Etta” Rosales declared her support for WeDpro, saying, “My priorities include revitalizing the Philippine human rights infrastructure, nurturing a strong human rights culture, and building strong partnerships with the civil society and NGOs. These include further strengthening our centers on women and children. We should all work together to protect, respect and fulfill the human rights of every single Filipino”

Angeles Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan echoed the need for different stakeholders to cooperate and collaborate. “The problem is just too big, its roots too deep, for us to defeat alone. We need the support of civil society organizations, the national government, and the international community…Trafficking and violence against women and children are related to many other issues and social problems, especially poverty, lack of education, law enforcement, corruption and many others. In other words, only a holistic approach could contain it,” he said.

The research report can be downloaded in full through www.wedprophils.org/redavp-research-reports. For more information about WeDpro and The Red AVP, please contact 4267479 or visit www.wedprophils.org.

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