Retired professor Vilma Gonzales of the local Network of Women raised her doubts over the country’s international ranking in gender relations as “sexual abuses, rape, among others still abound with most perpetrators go unpunished.”
By DANILDA L. FUSILERO
KIDAPAWAN CITY, Cotabato, Philippines — Violence continue to haunt women and children in the Philippines, a fact that directly contradicts the 2011 report of the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), women’s rights advocates said.
WEF ranked the Philippines 8th among other countries in the world in the 2011 Global Gender Gap. It noted the country’s “improved performance in gender gap eradication in the fields of education, health and survival, economic participation and political empowerment.”
But retired professor Vilma Gonzales of the local Network of Women raised her doubts over the country’s international ranking in gender relations as “sexual abuses, rape, among others still abound with most perpetrators go unpunished.”
She said the eradication of all forms of violence against women and children should serve as a “barometer” in gauging the country’s gender equality performance.
Psychologist Framer Mella also echoed a similar assessment on the country’s gender relations. She said, the country’s favorable ranking “could have been simply evaluated by the numbers of local government units which enacted their respective gender codes and the mushrooming of programs and projects with gender equality advocacies.”
“But even then, these are not enough indicators to say that the country has improving gender relations. There’s no substantial proof that gender gap between sexes is slimming-down,” Mella told davaotoday.com.
Leah Emily Minoza, Executive Director of the Women Studies and Resource Center, also raised questions over the WEF report, saying the increase in the access of women to employment and education in the country is not enough to justify that we are nearing a gender-fair status.
Ruby Padilla-Sison of the progressive women’s organization Gabriela said that “violence against women and children (VAWC) is still a fact” not just in the province but across the country.
In October 18, some 71 women, including minors, from Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces were rescued by the police force in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. The victims were reportedly recruited for work abroad.
In October 22, siblings Joy, 8 and Baby, 1 (not their real names) were held in custody by the Kidapawan City’s Welfare and Development Office after they were reportedly raped by their stepfather. Their mother, allegedly an entertainer in one of the establishments here, is nowhere to be found, reports said.
In October 23, two girls from this city, aged 12 and 13, were rescued at a Davao City hotel after they were allegedly recruited for work by New Zealand national David William Wakefield.
The girls were reportedly raped by Wakefield in front of other children in the said hotel. The accused foreigner was arrested. However on Tuesday, for some unknown reasons, he was temporarily released. He was given a 10-day grace period to file his counter-affidavit, local radio stations here reported.
In Davao City, data from the Women and Children Protection Desk showed that from January to October this year, 1,391 VAWC cases have been filed or five cases a day.
Data from the WSRC showed that in the Philippines in 2011, one woman becomes a victim of violence every 37 minutes, while one child becomes a victim of violence every 43 minutes.
Minoza said that the deepening economic crisis and militarization in the communities pushed “poor women and children to be more vulnerable to violence.”
“Violence against women is a reflection of a patriarchal society which treats women as objects and not as a people,” Minoza said, adding that, “until this is eradicated, we cannot truly claim a gender-fair society.” (Danilda L. Fusilero/davaotoday.com)Gender Issues