Davao women continue to battle against ‘7 deadly sins’

By
November 27 2012

The Women Studies and Resource Center (WSRC)-Southern Mindanao noted that the Davao Region has the highest incidence of VAW cases accounting 34 percent of the total national incidence.  In the last 10 months this year, it said, the Davao City police recorded 1,391 cases of domestic violence or an average of five cases per day.  The top three forms of gender violence among women are domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape.

By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — “Free all political prisoners,” Junk VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement),” “Undangon ang militarisasyon sa kabanikanhan (Stop the militarization in the countryside)” and “Batokan ang kapintas batok sa kababayen-an (Stop violence against women).”

These are just few of the calls posted on the clothes hanged in the vicinity of Freedom Park and Rizal Park on Monday as about 500 women and men from non-government and political organizations, local government units and government organizations gathered to observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Idevaw).

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated every 25th of November as Idevaw in honor of the three Dominican political activist-sisters — Patria Mercedes Mirabal, Maria Argentina Minerva Mirabal and Antonia Maria Teresa Mirabal — who were brutally killed on November 25, 1960 upon orders of the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Idevaw was originally a 16-day campaign until the International Human Rights Day on December 10.  But this time women’s groups made it an 18-day campaign until the International Day against Trafficking on December 12.

“We are supporting the campaign because it’s very important for the prostituted and trafficked women to know that abuses against women are interrelated,” Jeanette Laurel-Ampog, executive director of the women advocacy group Talikala Foundation, told davaotoday.com.

She pointed out that almost, if not all, victims of prostitution and trafficking are also victims of the ‘seven deadly sins’ or seven forms of violence against women: rape and incest; sexual harassment; domestic violence; sex trafficking, white slavery and prostitution; sexual discrimination; lack of social services; and human rights abuses or state violence.

In Davao City this year, Talikala recorded 4,000 women who are victims of prostitution compared to last year’s 6,000.  “But this does not mean that the number of victims has decreased.  Others became victims of sex trafficking,” Laurel-Ampog said.

In January to March this year, Talikala recorded 49 cases of domestic trafficking on women or an average of 15 victims every month who are below 18 years old.  “They are transferred to tourist destinations outside Davao or wherever there are mining activities like in Agusan and Monkayo,” Laurel-Ampog revealed.

 “Sakto ang claim kung naay mining activities, motaas ang ihap sa prostituted women, kay daghan lalaki, daghag kwarta (It’s correct to claim that wherever there are mining activities, the number of prostituted women increase because the men are there, as well as the money),” she said.

VAWC cases soar

Despite the existence of 37 laws on women and the passage of a local women’s code, The Women Development Code of Davao City, cases of violence against women (VAW) increase steadily in the city alone.

Data from the Women and Children Protection Desk in Davao recorded 184 VAW cases in 2004 or since The Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act (RA 9262) was passed.  In 2011, VAW cases rose to 1,450 or an almost 800 percent increase in a span of eight years.

The Women Studies and Resource Center (WSRC)-Southern Mindanao noted that the Davao Region has the highest incidence of VAW cases accounting 34 percent of the total national incidence.  In the last 10 months this year, it said, the Davao City police recorded 1,391 cases of domestic violence or an average of five cases per day.  The top three forms of gender violence among women are domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape.

“The passage of local and national laws has helped women and the general public to break silence about VAW,” said Leah Emily Miñoza, WSRC executive director, in a statement.  However the laws, she said, “have not eradicated the violence.”

WSRC also raised alarm on the incidence of violence against children.  It noted that eight cases of sexual harassment against children are reported every month while the rape of minors or those under 12 years of age has increased from one case in 2009 to 33 cases in 2012.

“The incidence of crime and violence victimizing women and children intensifies and proliferates. Moreover, these cases of violence are becoming more brutal and more heinous,” said Professor Luz Ilagan, Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Representative, in a statement.

Citing the 2011 data from the PNP Women and Children Protection Desk, Ilagan said an average of 35 cases of violence against women and children are reported per day, including two to three cases of rape.

Ilagan blames the heightened incidence of crime and violence against women to the growing poverty and the largely inaccessible and slow judicial processes which left many of the perpetrators unpunished.

Noting that most of the victims are women who are in especially difficult circumstances, Cora Espinoza of the association of urban poor women, Samahan ng Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa, cited government inaction over the worsening unemployment, landlessness, the lack of social services and the increasing prices of basic goods and commodities which have pushed more women and children vulnerable to violence.

Poverty and militarization

Mary Ann Sapar, spokesperson of Gabriela Women’s Party in Southern Mindanao said no matter how many laws protecting women and children are passed, as long as the problem of poverty exists, more and more women and children will become victims of violence.

The fight to end violence against women, Sapar stressed, is also a fight to end poverty that breeds such violence.

Sapar however noted that women who are fighting poverty and government inaction have become victims of violent suppression perpetrated by state authorities.

Sapar also noted that out of the 114 victims of extrajudicial killings of political activists under President Noynoy Aquino, 15 are women and girl-children.

With the Aquino administration unleashing its internal security plan, Oplan Bayanihan, Sapar said, more and more women will become victims.

She noted that incidents of rape done by military men against minors are occurring, especially in areas of heightened military presence and operations under Oplan Bayanihan.

The rape of a 16 year-old girl by a certain Capt. Danilo Lalin in Mankayan, Benguet; the gang rape of a 17 year-old girl by OFC Alexander O. Barzaga, PFC Ronnie Q. Castro and PVT Rocky H. Domingo of the 16th IB in Rizal; and the rape of a 13 year-old girl by her Cafgu uncle in Lobo, Batangas are some instances.

Local and international support

The Anti-VAWC campaign spearheaded by women’s groups in Davao has earned the support of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio who issued on November 3 Proclamation No. 27 declaring November 25 as Idevaw in the city.  The proclamation urged the people of Davao to support the anti-VAWC campaign.

The campaign also drew support from women women’s rights advocates from other countries.

Laure Wise, a missionary from Texas, USA who joined hundreds of women Monday said she was there to show her support.  “Women’s issues have always been really important to me.  It’s something I’ve always volunteered my time to in the past before arriving here in the Philippines,” Wise said.

Lyda Canson, chair emeritus of Gabriela-Southern Mindanao urged an unrelenting fight to end violence against women.  “We’ve been fighting for an end to gender-based violence for over 30 years now.  We must not forget and must not stop the fight, until victory is ours,” Canson said.  (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)

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