“Ending violence against women in the Philippines, or anywhere for that matter, is an ambitious yet attainable goal”
The Philippines’ annual 18-Day Campaign to end Violence Against Women (VAW) serves as a crucial reminder of the pervasive issue that continues to plague societies worldwide.
The initiative is implemented by the Philippine Commission on Women, and runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 12, as mandated by Proclamation 1172, s. 2006.
The agency creates advocacy publicity materials and shares them on their website, along with information about violence against women and related topics.
They characterize VAW as “not just a major public health problem but also a grave violation of human rights.”
The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, adopted in 1993, defines the term ‘violence against women’ as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private.
The Declaration recognizes the greater vulnerability to violence of “female children,” among other groups of women, and that the occurrence of VAW as “pervasive” and cutting “across lines of income, class, and culture.”
The same document states that VAW encompasses physical, sexual, and psychological violence occurring in the family, general community, workplace, school, and elsewhere, including that perpetrated or condoned by the State.
One of its forms is domestic abuse, which, according to the United Nations, is “a pattern of abusive behavior toward an intimate partner in a dating or family relationship, where the abuser exerts power and control over the victim.”
It can be mental, physical, economic, or sexual in nature. In its various forms, domestic abuse inflicts grievous harm on survivors, leaving them grappling with emotional, psychological, and physical scars.
As a survivor of domestic abuse, anti-VAW is one of my advocacies.
The paragraphs below come from an academic paper I recently wrote in an effort to better understand a certain facet of the issue.
“VAW is still a ‘pervasive’ social problem in the country, according to the PCW. In their Estado ni Juana report as of Dec. 31, 2022, 17.5 percent of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence from their husbands or intimate partners.
“Of those who have ever been married and have experienced physical violence, 48 percent of them said the violence was done by their current husband or partner, while 25 percent said the perpetrator was their former husband or partner.
“A study conducted in an urban community in Paco, Manila nearly 20 years ago put the figure even higher – in the same age range, 47.2 percent of women surveyed had experienced “psychological and physical violence at the hands of their intimate partners during their lifetimes;” 29 percent had “experienced domestic violence perpetrated by their current partners in the past year,” with 31 percent of the latter suffering physical maltreatment and 68 percent, psychological abuse.
“The same study found that the leading types of physical maltreatment were “repeated slapping, kicking, and beating, even during pregnancy. Major psychological abuse included insulting, belittling, and use of threats.”
“A study conducted in Santa Cruz, Laguna in 2022 had similar findings, with physical abuse the most common recorded case, and other reported cases including behaviors such as psychological abuse, threats of abandonment, child support issues, child custody, and economic abuse.
“In 2021, a video of a policeman in Cagayan de Oro City beating his wife – hitting her on the face, shaking her violently — went viral and was featured on the television news.
“The Philippines is a collectivist society that puts the needs of the family above that of the individual. This fact, as well as deeply entrenched patriarchal norms contribute to the power dynamics and gender inequalities that underpin domestic violence.
“Patriarchy, a system of male dominance, is primarily reproduced and perpetuated in the household. Poverty has been found to have a “huge impact on perpetuating a patriarchal mentality,” according to a 2015 study.”
Ending violence against women in the Philippines, or anywhere for that matter, is an ambitious yet attainable goal.
It requires a collective and sustained effort involving various sectors of society.
While eradicating VAW entirely might seem like an insurmountable task given the deeply entrenched cultural and societal norms, progress is possible.
Awareness about the issue goes a long way toward changing attitudes and behavior about it. Initiatives like the 18-Day Campaign serve as pivotal steps forward for initiating dialogues and prompting policy change that will hopefully lead to much-needed societal change.
If you want to support this initiative, visit the PCW website and download the campaign’s digital assets for your social media accounts.
Let’s spread awareness to end VAW!
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