Violence against women (VAW) appears as one of the country’s pervasive social problems. According to the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the National Statistics Office, one in five Filipino women age 15-49 has experienced physical violence since age 15. It is indeed alarming that despite efforts to address the concern, VAW persists.
VAW is deemed to be closely linked with the unequal power relationship between women and men otherwise known as “gender‑based violence.”Societal norms and traditions dictate people to think men are the leaders, pursuers, providers, and take on dominant roles in society while women are nurturers, men’s companions and supporters, and take on subordinate roles in society. This perception leads to men gaining more power over women. With power comes the need to control to retain that power. And VAW is a form of men’s expression of controlling women to retain power.
Women are also put to blame as the cause of their own misery. In the home, some women are accused of being “naggers” or neglectful of their duties as wife that is why they are beaten by their spouses. Rape is sometimes attributed to a raped woman’s “flirtatious” ways. A woman filing for sexual harassment, in some instances is blamed for being malicious by interpreting her employer’s appreciation of her good looks.
These are just some of the realities that contribute to the vulnerability of Filipino women to VAW. An even greater problem is the lack of concrete information to show the extent of VAW in the country as many cases of violence against women often go unreported due to women victims’ “culture of silence.” Many of the victims are ashamed to relate their experiences while others tend to dismiss their ordeal as a result of their lack of faith in the country’s justice system caused by frustrations over the lack of results in filing complaints.
Several government mechanisms have already been put in place to address VAW. Non-government organizations also take part in this crusade. It is uncertain when this trend will totally diminish in the Philippine setting, but as long as current efforts to fight VAW are sustained, hope could be set high.