Militant women’s group GABRIELA received one to two cases of violence against women per day.
As women anticipate the International Working Women’s Day on March 8, GABRIELA finds it ironic that abuses against women and children escalate with a shorter interval of 10 minutes.
“One case of violence is too many, 10 minute-interval per abuse is reprehensible. Violence against women occurs with impunity because of a fascist and misogynist president who repeatedly displays ingrained prejudice against women,” said GABRIELA Secretary General Joms Salvador, in a statement on Saturday.
Salvador’s statement was in reaction to the data reported by the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), a research and training institution for women.
GABRIELA revealed that the VAW cases it received have escalated at the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration to 60.45 percent, from 382 cases in 2015 to 713 in 2016.
In a related manner, the reported 9,943 rape cases in just the first year of Duterte’s presidency is 53 percent more than the annual average of 6,480 cases for the past decade.
GABRIELA concurred with the information, based on women who call for help in its Services Desk.
“Women experiencing violence contact us through landline, e-mail, social media, and some even walk-in our office to seek help. On the average, we get one to two cases per day,” said Obeth Montes, GABRIELA’s psychologist and head of its Services Desk.
With very few in-house counselors, GABRIELA welcomes psychologists and social workers who want to volunteer in its VAW clinic every Tuesday and Thursday.
GABRIELA also invites lawyers who give pro bono services during the monthly legal clinic of the organization. “We have our hands full so we need all the volunteers who are interested to help,” said Montes.
Montes also believed that women who experience violence can overcome their trauma by fighting back and having a strong support system among themselves.
“When women victims of violence realize that they are not alone in the fight, they feel stronger and could even be effective para-counselors themselves,” Montes said.
Montes revealed that GABRIELA conducts massive information campaign against violence to let more women know about the issue and encourage them to break the culture of silence.
In addition, there are more than 37 laws for the welfare of women. Despite the laws passed, the abuses happen persistently. Interestingly, information drive on VAW by the police emphasizes on how a woman should conduct herself in public so as not to be sexually abused.
“The police public information campaign reeks of victim blaming, a reflection of the macho-fascist president who wantonly commit an attack against women,” said Salvador.
Salvador explained that the feudal-patriarchal mindset persists in society as exemplified by the highest official of the land who reinforces the stereotypes in women.
“President Duterte’s words and deeds sustain the wrong notion that women are the lesser and weaker sex who can be objectified and commodified. Such notion oppresses more women especially those who belong to low-income households. Because of their economic standing, their voices are seldom heard, their complaints are seldom regarded,” said Salvador.
At the same time, Salvador said that women and VAW should not be regarded during the month of March alone.
“The government suddenly remembers us and our issues like VAW in March, declared as the women’s month. What hypocrisy! We experience violence every 1/6 of an hour every day, yet we seldom get noticed,” Salvador said.
“Ending VAW, which is a gnawing concern of women, is part of our call on March 8. We will put forward the demands of women, emphasizing on the need for collective action to achieve economic empowerment. Women who work with decent wage can have the courage to get out from a violent setting. Women who know that they are not alone in the fight will dare to fight back,” said Salvador./Stacy Ang