“Sins against Filipino women are being committed on a daily basis.”
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — On the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8, the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) said that despite the existence and supposed enforcement of 37 Philippine laws, executive orders, resolutions that are supposed to protect and serve the welfare and development of women, violence against them continues.
The group defines violence against women as “an act or series of acts that involves coercion, intimidation, threat, and/or deception. It causes physical, sexual or psychological harm. The CWR also explained that violence against women also includes the neglect of women’s interests, needs, and welfare.
Victims of political repression
Listing what it said were “sins” being committed against Filipino women on a daily basis, the CWR said the Benigno Aquino III administration has yet to prove that it is genuinely pro-women. It also said the armed forces of the government are using violence against women as a means of political repression.
From July 2010 to December 2011, six women fell victim to extra-judicial killings that were politically-motivated. There are currently 35 women political prisoners in different jails in the country. Detained women are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and torture as seen in the cases of former political detainee and now Selda secretary general Angie Ipong and the women belonging to the Morong 43.
Out of the government’s 23 women detainees, 16 reported being subjected to torture.
Apart from the serious implications of political repression, counted among the more serious violations being perpetrated against women is the act of rape. Based on data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Women’s Crisis and Child Protection Center (WCCPC) , there were 14,201 recorded cases of rape (76.56 percent of all crimes committed against women of a sexual nature), attempted rape (18.68 percent) and incestuous rape (5.74 percent) from January 2000 to August 2011.
From January 2011 to June that same year, there were 28 recorded cases of gang rape.
Another shocking statistic is that one child is raped every two hours and 30 minutes.
In the meantime, based from CWR’s 2012 monitoring records, the youngest victim of rape is three years old while the oldest is 86 years old. Majority or 54 percent of the victims are within the ages of 11 to 20 years old.
The CWR also recorded that from January to June 2011, there were 13 recorded cases of rape perpetrated by elements of the police, military, and paramilitary institutions of the Aquino government.
Only last month, the activist women’s group Gabriela launched a campaign demanding the arrest of six soldiers accused of raping a civilian in Masbate. The 21-year old victim charged the six soldiers, at the Masbate prosecutor’s office, of gang raping her on January 30 and again on February 2 inside the Bravo Company of the Army 9th Infantry Battalion camp in the town of Milagros.
Sexual harassment also remains a serious offense against Filipino women.
From January 2000 to August 2011, there were 757 recorded cases of sexual harassment or five (5) cases per month. In the meantime, the PNP-WCPC also said that one child becomes a victim of sexual harassment every seven hours.
On the home front, women are not spared from violence from their partners and spouses.
From January 2011 to August 2011, the CWR noted that police institutions recorded 5,989 cases of domestic violence as defined by Republic Act 9262. This translates to 748 cases per month, 25 cases per day or one case every 57 minutes and 36 seconds.
More startling is the report that from 2006 to 2011, a total of 29,737 cases of domestic violence were recorded by the PNP-WCPC from 2004 to August 2011.
The crimes of sex trafficking, prostitution and white slavery also continue to victimize women.
From January 2000 to August 2011, there were 619 recorded cases of trafficking. Some 500,000 women fell victim to prostitution during the same period, and 100,000 of these victims were children.
One recent case is that of eight women, four of them minors, who were rescued from a Korean bar in Baguio City. They came from Davao City and were promised high-paying jobs.
Poor maternal and health care
The other crimes being committed against women come in commonplace but no less outrageous forms.
The CWR said that despite the government’s promises to uplift maternal health and childcare services, most Filipino women still do not have access or have only limited access to the same.
Citing reports from the Department of Health and other sources, the CWR said 60 percent of birth deliveries occur at home where two out of three are delivered by an unskilled attendant. Only 25 percent of poor pregnant women are able to undergo medical checkups and give birth with the assistance of doctors or nurses.
Despite developments in global health care, leading causes of maternal mortality in the Philippines include complications related to pregnancy occurring in the course of labor, delivery and puerperium, hypertension complicating pregnancy, postpartum hemorrhage. All these complications can be easily prevented if the patients have been given proper medical attention.
Labor inequality continues
In the workplace, women are still being discriminated against as inequality remains if employment figures will be examined. Based on reports from the National Statistics Office (NSO), the participation of women in the country’s labor system is pegged at 50.40 percent, meaning only 15.66 million are involved in the formal labor sector. This is small compared to figures of Filipino men’s involvement which is pegged at 79 percent. This means that 24.34 million Filipino men are registered laborers or part of the formal labor sector.
Still according to the NSO, there were 1.04 million unemployed women in 2011. Laborers and unskilled workers receive a meager average of P138.52 ( $3.22) daily and they are comprised by 35 percent of all employed Filipino women as off 2010. [BLES Gender Statistics, 2011].
Also, 50.49 percent of employed women are in the less paying industries such as agriculture, hunting and forestry. Most of them are also considered unpaid family workers, while 68.5 percent of working women are also considered unpaid in Fishing industry. [BLES Gender Statistics, 2011]
An increasing number of employed women or 11.53 are in employed in private households owned or run by employed persons or employers.
Finally, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) , as of 2011 six out of 10 migrant workers are women, most of them are in service work such as domestic helpers, cleaners, helpers, and charwomen.
Migrante International has previously exposed what it said was the “feminization” of labor migration. It said that the number of female domestic workers and caregivers going abroad because of the all-out implementation of the past and present government’s labor export policy continues to rise.
“In 1995, according to the National Statistics Office’s Survey of Overseas Filipinos (NSO SOF), there were 91 female OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) for every 100 male OFWs. This figure steadily increased to a peak of 102 female OFWs per 100 male in 2006. To date, Filipina OFWs still make up more than half or around 60 percent of the stock estimate of OFWs. They outnumber male OFWs especially in the service sector, with 135, 168 female new hires to 19,367 to male new hires in 2010,” it said.
Abandoning women and children
Gabriela Women’s Party List Rep. Emmi de Jesus said in a statement that given all these statistics, it is evident that President Aquino has abandoned his duty to ensure the protection and respect for the rights and welfare of poor Filipino women and their families.
“So long as President Aquino remains apathetic to violations against the rights of women and children, we will continue to act for the people’s interests. The Aquino government should be held accountable for abandoning the welfare of marginalized Filipino women and their families,” she said.