MINERVA BC NEWMAN
DUMAGUETE CITY— The Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE), a non-government organization that assists women who are victims of abuse, renewed its call on educating men on laws on violence against women and children (VAWC) as it continues with its program “Men for Violence-Free Communities” where males are being educated on the Reproductive Health (RH) Law, positive masculinity, and VAW laws.
GWAVE Executive Director Sheema Bajana said that the group does not only need women advocates but male advocates too. This call came as the city joined the nationwide observance this month of the 18 Days Campaign to end VAW.
Bajama noted that since the perpetrators of VAW are mostly men, it is important to educate them early on. “We start as young as teens kay syempre these teens will grow up to be men and to avoid repeated violence, dapat as young 15, 16 (years old).”
According to the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) here that the Dumaguete City Legal Office officer Atty. Francis Rey Filipinas also suggested that there should be more advocacy campaigns focused on informing the public, especially men on the sanctions and penalties for violating Republic Act 9262.
Filipinas believed that perpetrators are discouraged from committing these crimes if they are aware of the penalties which will be imposed on violators.
“Taas kaayo ang penalty sa (R.A.) 9262. If makabalo sila ana then mao nang mag-stop nila from doing these acts against women,” Filipinas said. (If they know that the penalties under R.A. 9262 are heavy, perhaps they will be discouraged from doing these acts against women.)
During a Kapihan sa PIA forum here recently, PMaj. Margienett Yosores of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Negros Oriental reported that VAW cases in the province went down from 688 between March to October 2019 to 389 cases for the same period this year.
Yosores said that the figures were generated from the month of March to October to reflect the rate of VAW before and during the imposition of community quarantine rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other forms of VAW showed a decline during the said period.
Rape cases decreased from 16 in 2019 to 11 in 2020 and the same downward trend was also seen in sexual abuse cases with six cases in 2019 to only one in 2020; Psychological abuse from 220 in 2019 to 121 in 2020, and acts of lasciviousness from 23 in 2019 to 12 in 2020. Physical abuse cases, which logged the highest number among VAW cases, also showed a drop from 443 in 2019 to 262 in 2020, Yosores added.
Provincial Commission on Women (PCW) Vice-Chairperson Phoebe Tan expressed concern on the figures reported by the police.
“Mas alarming na nimaba ang reported cases. Ngano man nimaba ni? We are saying, and there seems to be an agreement, na ang perpetrator naa ra diha,” Tan said. (It is alarming that the number of reported cases decreased. What could be the reason behind this when there seems to be an agreement that the perpetrator could be close to them?)
Tan referred to an article posted at the website of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) which cited that “women may experience different forms of VAW while locked down in their homes with the perpetrators, with tension rising from uncertainties in health, security, and economy.”
Yosores said that records showed that VAW cases went down during the pandemic. But from initial assessment, it could be because women can’t go out and report and they have no person to talk to.
“It’s possible that abuse happens, only women just endure it because they can’t go out. If ever they do and they forget to wear a face mask, they must pay the P200 fine. We have health protocols to follow,” she added.
According to GWAVE Legal Assistance Program Head Cheryl Sumanoy that they notice that cases really went down. On an average basis, she said they receive 35 calls and texts but now, because of the pandemic, the number of calls and text they received were from 20 to 25. It went down but they noticed most of the abuses are in the forms of economic abuse,” Sumanoy added.
Tan called for the utilization of barangay tanods and establishing functional VAW desk officers in all barangays across the province so that victims will have someone to turn to when they experience forms of abuse. “Let us mobilize our tanods, mga VAW desk officers even if we are on lockdown,” Tan stated.