As the entire world celebrates Women’s Month this March, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) renewed its call for special protection of Filipino women, especially amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
POPCOM said that based on the results of a recent Social Weather Stations survey, one out of 4 or 25 percent of Filipino adults across the Philippines cited harmful acts in various forms as among the most pressing problems of women during the present health crisis.
Based on the survey, 11 percent mentioned physical violence as top-of-mind concern for Filipinas, while 14 percent cited sexual violence and emotional violence (7 percent each) — or a total of 25 percent — as top concerns Filipinas are facing while the Covid-19 pandemic persists.
The figure is almost similar in Mindanao, with 24 percent of adults sharing the same sentiments (11 percent for physical violence, 5 percent for sexual, and 8 percent for emotional), while it was slightly lower in the Visayas at 22 percent (6 percent physical violence, 11 percent sexual, 5 percent emotional). The trend was however higher in Manila at 29 percent (13 percent for physical violence, 7 percent sexual, 9 percent emotional) and the rest of Luzon at 28 percent (13 percent for physical violence, 7 percent sexual, 8 percent emotional).
The commission also cited an increase in numbers of gender-based violence (GBV), according to the fifth annual report of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law released in 2020.
Per accounts of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the yearly RPRH report, there were 19,743 recorded cases of violence against women (VAW) in the country in 2019. Out of those, 77 percent, or 15,160 cases, formed part of violations under the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Law, or the intimate partner-relationship category. The rest fell under other forms of GBV, such as rape (2,341 cases), acts of lasciviousness (1,953), concubinage (204) and sexual harassment (85).
Nonetheless, the report declared a marked downtrend in the number of VAW reports from 2017 to 2018 (25,572 to 18,748, or –27 percent). Yet, there was a slight increase in 2019 statistics (19,743, or +5 percent). As a whole, reported VAW events went down from 2017 to 2019 by 25 percent, although it exhibited a 7-percent rise from 2018 to 2019.
In relation, the RPRH Law report disclosed that VAWC is not only a violation of human rights, but is also a public-health concern. It stated: “Studies have shown that violence prevents women (and children) from accessing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.”