No End in Sight to Violence, Poverty and Deprivation Afflicting Filipino Women

While more women are in the forefront of politics and the struggle to uphold women’s rights, still, there are many women whose rights are being violated, be it in their own communities, houses, and workplaces. Even the government violates the rights of women.


MANILA — It has been said that the conditions of women and children reflect the state of affairs of that country. Thus, when President Benigno Aquino III declared in his inaugural address last June 30 that his administration would take a righteous path, that path should lead to the betterment of the conditions of women and children.

The Philippines ranked number nine in the recent Gender Gap Index published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). However, Lana Linaban, secretary general of Gabriela, said the country’s ranking among the top 10 countries where women are “empowered” is not reflective of the true state of Filipino women. She said that while the WEF’s finding that more Filipino women are visible in the field of politics and more women have high educational attainment is true, the WEF failed to dig deeper into the situation of women. She said even women from the upper classes of society become victims of violence against women.

The Global Gender Gap Index that was developed in 2006 used Gender Gap subindexes such as economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.

While more women are in the forefront of politics and the struggle to uphold women’s rights, still, there are many women whose rights are being violated, be it in their own communities, houses, and workplaces. Even the government violates the rights of women.

Violence Against Women

It is ironic that despite the passage of laws that protect the rights and welfare of women, cases of violence against women are still prevalent. The number of victims is rising, and the types and levels of violence are worsening.

The gang rape of 21-year old volunteer nurse Florence in South Upi, Maguindanao is a reflection of the level of brutality that women experience in the country. Florence was abducted and raped by a group of men last September 25. The next day, Sept. 26, Florence was found naked and unconscious in a cornfield.

Florence sustained a severe head injury; the right side of her body is paralyzed. She also experienced memory loss. Worse, she is suffering from a deep psychological trauma. Reports said she has difficulties sleeping at night and has often been seen crying.

Before Florence, there is Jessica, 25 years old, who was forcibly taken at random along Quezon Avenue and raped by three men. Gabriela also recorded cases of rape victimizing minors. Two girls, 14 and 17 years old, were raped at a resort in Negros Occidental. A 13-year old girl was also reported to have been repeatedly raped by a group of men, seven of whom were high school students.

According to the data of the National Statistics Office, in the Philippines, at least one out of five women aged 15 to 49 have been violently violated since age five. The Philippine National Police-Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC) recorded 9,485 cases of violence against women and children in 2009. Of these, 960 were cases of sexual harassment, an increase from the 907 cases in 2008. There were 3,081 reported cases of rape in 2009 while in the first half of 2010 alone there were already 1,724 cases.

There are existing laws that protect women such as the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 or Republic Act (RA) 7877; Anti-Rape Law or RA 8353 that classified rape as a crime against persons; and Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 or RA 9208. A Magna Carta of Women was also passed in August 2009. The Magna Carta of Women “is a comprehensive women’s human rights law that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of Filipino women, especially those in the marginalized sectors.”

Despite Existing Laws, Violence against Women Continue

In a privilege speech delivered by Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan at the House of Representatives last Nov. 24, she mentioned that at least 50 percent of the cases reported to Migrante International by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) involved rape, sexual molestation, harassment and other forms of violence victimizing women OFWs.

Ilagan also said more and more women forced to take the graveyard shift in various economic zones, as well as in Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) and call centers in the country are subjected to conditions that are unsafe and extremely vulnerable to rape and other forms of gender violence.

Worse, the road to justice for women victims is fraught with obstacles and difficulties. Just recently, the case filed by actress Katrina Halili against Hayden Kho for violation of Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act was dismissed by Judge Rodolfo Bonifacio of the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 159 . In 2009, Halili filed a case against Kho for videotaping their sexual act without her knowledge and uploading it on the internet. In his 10-page decision, Judge Rodolfo Bonifacio said the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence to prove that Halili was unaware that they were being videotaped while having sex.

The dismissal of the civil and criminal suit filed by Halili reflects the court’s lack of awareness on the intricacies of violence against women (VAW), said Gabriela in a statement. Jovita Montes, director of Gabriela Health and Services Department added that, “By dismissing the case against Kho, the court is sending the message that it is easy to get away with abusing women. The decision is disturbing especially in the light of the increasing incidences of VAW in the country, including the uploading on the internet of videos or photos of women engaged in private acts.”

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  1. Yiyi a rebuff: No, I can not put your money to fill the inside. Speaking of money but a lot of cool Yiyi, it is probably her superwoman psychology at work.

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