DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Lot caretaker Aiza Samonte, 49 lived with a carpenter nine years her senior when she was still 19 years old.
“Federico was very kind. He shares domestic chores with me when it comes to rearing the children,” Samonte told Davao Today in vernacular.
After four years of living together, they were married.
However, sometime in December 2010, Samonte’s husband went jealous for unknown reason.
“I thought it was just a joke, I thought it was just his way of saying he loves me,” Samonte said.
She said her husband confessed to her that only after giving birth to their youngest child did he realize that he loved her so much.
“I was hurt, but he told me it was because he loves me so much that’s why he was jealous,” she said.
The jealousy was serious to the point that he threatened to kill Aiza if he catch her having an affair with another man.
“But it came to a point that he threatened me that he will not sleep because he will watch over me,” Samonte said.
She filed a complaint before the village official and she was able to get a Barangay Protection Order.
They were separated within 15 days. The order also prohibited her husband not to go near her within “50 meters.”
However, Samonte said she didn’t expect that her husband would be more violent.
Around 9:00 pm sometime in March 2011, a time that was supposed to be the observance of Women’s
Month, her husband went to where she was staying.
“He wanted to talk, but I refused to talk to him,” she said.
Her husband destroyed the lock to forcibly enter their house.
“I fought back because I worried that he would also hit our children,” she said.
Three of her children were sleeping that time, but her fourth child, then only six years old saw what happened. Samonte said she was hit all over. “I was covered with blood, my eyes were too swollen, I could not open them,” she said.
Her siblings were able to rescue her and her husband was arrested.
Fortunately, Samonte was able to decide immediately to file a case before her husband.
“When I filed the case, I was unsure how it would end up. The police told me if I would not file a case within 24 hours they would free my husband,” she said.
Her husband was sentenced for seven years in prison. But she said he served only five years and two months.
He went back to their house, but Samonte told him that she did not want him back.
“I do not want to have another near-death experience. I told him he has the right to see our children, but the two of us are over,” she said.
Samonte’s case was among the 634 cases recorded by the Integrated Gender and Development Division in Davao City in 2011. The IGDD is the monitoring and coordinating body for gender and development efforts under the City Mayor’s Office. In 2016, the IGDD recorded 1,732 cases of violence against women, 1,668 of these are VAWC related cases.
Lorna Mandin, IGDD head, said everyday they have new cases, which five lawyers of the IGDD assist.
“These are domestic-related cases. But economic abuse also dominate the cases of violation of Republic Act 9262,” she said.
In an interview with Davao Today, Mandin said 901 of the VAWC cases involve economic abuse, 477 were psychological, 269 physical and 21 were sexual.
Patriarchal culture, poverty
Based on the statistics from the Center for Women’s Resources in 2016, one woman is battered every 16 minutes.
Mandin said the “patriarchal culture” is one reason why cases of abuse against women still exist.
“Men think they are dominating, they are in a more powerful situation,” she said.
Mandin said poor women would have more difficulty in coping from abuse.
She said women who have better jobs can easily cope and have resources to file a case.
“But a poor woman do not have the economic means to feed her children. Usually she is trapped in that situation of abuse,” she said.
Eunice Casiple, program coordinator of Luna Legal Resources for Women who assisted Samonte said they are currently handling 20 active cases of violence against women and children.
Casiple also noted that among the factors affecting women to decide to file a case against their husband is because of their economic situation.
“70 percent of our cases involved women from the marginalized sector,” she said.
“Most of them have no jobs so they think about what would happen to their children if the husband is in jail,” she said.
Samonte said she almost gave up the case if not for the encouragement of non-government organizations.
“I was thinking about how I could pay the lawyers, but the NGOs provided legal assistance,” she said.
On Tuesday, February 14, Samonte joined hundreds of women at the One Billion Rising campaign at the Rizal Park here.
She said she hopes that in joining the call to end violence against women, those like her will be encouraged to speak out.
“We must not keep silent, we should not be afraid. We have to take action to end violence against women because we are not alone,” she said.
Hundreds of women join the fifth year of the global campaign.
Mandin said the solidarity among women reflect that “we are fighting for liberation from all forms of violence.” (davaotoday.com)