Philippine initiatives to eliminate VAW

Significant progress has been made by both the government and non-government organizations in the Philippines in terms of addressing and eliminating VAW.

One of the major accomplishments of the government in addressing VAW is the passage of Republic Act No. 9262, otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004. The Act was signed into law during the celebration of “International Women’s Day” in March 8, 2004. It penalizes all forms of abuse and violence within the family and intimate relationships. The Act classifies violence against women and children (VAWC) as a public crime. RA 9262 also mandated the creation of the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Their Children (IACVAWC).

Other Philippine laws related to VAW include:

  • RA 3815: The Revised Penal Code
  • RA 7877: Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995
  • RA 8353: Anti-Rape Law of 1997
  • RA8369: The Family Courts Act of 1997
  • RA 8505: Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998
  • RA 9208: The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003
  • RA 9710: Magna Carta of Women

Local legislative bodies such as the local governments of Cebu City and province have also demonstrated the power of legislation to address domestic violence. The Cebu City Council, as well as the Provincial Board, passed ordinances penalizing domestic violence and providing protective  measures for  women  and  child  victims of abuse. One of the more noteworthy features of the province's ordinances is the “barangay protection order” (BPO) which may be issued by the barangay chair upon petition of the victim. The BPO makes it possible for local officials to “remove and exclude (the abuser) from the residence of the abused person temporarily for the purpose of protecting the victim regardless of the ownership of the residence.” The protection order is deemed necessary because it is usually the wife and children who are compelled to leave the family home to escape the abusive husband.

The PCW, along with other government agencies and non‑government institutions commemorates the 18day campaign to end VAW(formerly 16-day campaign) since 2002. Also, to encourage the participation of men in the campaign to stop VAW, PCW helped organize the Men Opposed to VAW Everywhere (MOVE) in 2006.

Facilities and programs have also been established to alleviate the impacts of VAW. These programs and facilities include temporary care and shelter for Women in Especially Difficult Circumstances, called the Haven, Crisis Intervention Unit of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. On the other hand, the Department of Health (DOH) institutionalized the Women and Children Protection Program in a number of hospitals nationwide while the Philippine National Police now has a Women’s and Children’s Desks. Staffed mainly by female police officers, these units receive complaints by victims‑survivors of crimes committed against women and children.

Non-government organizations should also be recognized and given credit for raising public awareness on VAW and providing support for women victims long before government facilities were set up. Many community‑based programs to assist women victims of violence initiated by NGOs have now been adopted and replicated by national government agencies and local government units such as the Community‑based Approach to Violence Against Women (COMBAT‑VAW) pioneeredby the Women’s Legal Bureau and the HASIK. The Lihok Pilipina’s Bantay Banay or “community watch” is the backbone of Cebu City’s anti‑domestic violence program.

The first crisis center for victims/survivors of VAW in the country, the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) launched its National Family Violence Prevention Program in 1997 with 18 cities and municipalities all over the Philippines. The program is a community‑based strategy of preparing familymembers  to protect  themselves against  violence and  manage  peaceful resolution  of conflict  within  the  context  of family relations. It aims to organize and mobilize multi‑agency actiongroups in the prevention of family violence from the regional down to the barangay level.

Other  notable women NGOs that  have  been  at  the  forefront  of the  crusade  against  VAW are SALIGAN (a legal group), KALAKASAN (Women Against Violence, an NGO providing shelter and counseling) and Women’s Legal Bureau (legal group). These women’s groups implement research projects dealing with violence and maintain a network of services dedicated to helping VAW survivors. These NGOs have also conscientiously tried to maintain records of their clients and services to help establish data on the extent and nature of violence committed against women. Several networks on VAW such as the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women focus on the issues of prostitution and trafficking both locally and internationally. They hold preventive education seminars and training in communities, among NGOs and with selected youth groups. The Philippine Migrants Rights Network on the other hand, particularly Kanlungan, assists women who are victims of violence in the context of migration.