Senator Pia S. Cayetano will lead the unveiling of a photo exhibit in the Senate today to call attention to rising incidents of violence being committed against women, even as she pressed on the government to ensure more stringent measures to protect women from all forms of gender violence.
Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Youth, Women and Family Relations, said the exhibit, entitled “Flight from Lives Tattered by Violence to Blossoming Beginnings,” was initiated by her office in solidarity with women’s groups to mark the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.” The 16-day world-wide campaign kicked off yesterday, November 25, the “International Day of Activism Against Gender Violence.”
In a privilege speech last November 22, Cayetano said cases of violence against women (VAW) continue to rise even with the passage of landmark laws in recent years, including the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710), the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act (RA 9262), the Anti-Rape Law (RA 8353), the Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act (RA 8505), the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law (RA 7877) and the Anti-Trafficking of Persons Law (RA 9208).
Citing latest statistics from the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), she said 9,485 VAW cases were monitored in 2009, which is 37.4 percent higher compared to 6,905 incidents in 2008. Of the 9,485 VAW incidents last year, more than half or 5,285 are cases of wife abuse, 1,498 are wife battery cases, 770 rape cases, and 152 human trafficking cases.
This translates to around 26 women who are victims of violence every day, even as Cayetano pointed out that VAW incidents could actually be higher because official statistics cover only those that are reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
She urged local government units to play a more active role, including putting up VAW desks in all barangays and training local leaders to respond quickly to domestic violence cases. LGUs can also help by providing counseling services and organizing job fairs to provide women with employment opportunities here and abroad.
Another alarming trend, according to Cayetano, is the increase in human trafficking cases which mostly victimizes women.
In a privilege speech delivered last November 17, Cayetano said 630 Filipinos who were used as ‘drug mules’ by international human trafficking syndicates are being detained in prisons abroad facing drug trafficking charges. In China alone, 250 Filipinos are being detained, 60 of whom are already on death row.
She also raised questions on a PNP report claiming that the number of human trafficking cases in the country had significantly decreased this year. “How (can the PNP) issue such a statement when we always receive reports of women being trafficked almost every day?” she asked.
She pointed out that the Philippines had been languishing in Tier 2 of the United States’ human trafficking watch-list for two years in a row and is in danger of being further downgraded to Tier 3. She warned that countries placed in Tier 3 may be subject to sanctions such as the withholding of all non-humanitarian and non-trade related foreign assistance from the US. #