VAW cases rise in Baguio and Benguet; Women and children urged to speak out, report

By Esjay Zausa and Carmina Vale Tarangco

“Mahal, tama na please.”

This is a common plea of Riza (not her real name) every time her partner would physically hurt her.

For years, she endured her relationship with Jun (not his real name) despite numerous abuses she suffered from her partner. These abuses include verbal abuse, economic abuse and physical abuse. She endured because she thought her partner would change eventually. But she did not.

According to Riza, the abuse from Jun started when they lived together. She is either pinned down, yelled at, and forced to work beyond normal hours in a rice field. This scenario got worst when she caught Jun using illegal drugs. As a result, Jun threatened her life and her family if ever she will disclose his drug use to the people. She kept silent.

After few years of living together in Pico, La Trinidad, Benguet, they transferred to Jun’s hometown in Pangasinan. Riza recalled that the abuses got worst to the extent that she was even dragged by Jun. Luckily, she was rescued by their neighbors.

This story of Riza is just but one of the hundreds or accounts of Domestic Intimate relationship Violence (DIV).

Violence against women is an act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. It encompasses all forms of violation of women’s rights, including threats and reprisals, exploitation, harassment, and other forms of control.

In the first eight months of 2018, The Regional Committee against Trafficking, Child Pornography and Violence against Women and Children in the Cordillera Region, recorded 712 cases of violence against women and children (VAWC). Of the recorded cases, 424 are cases of violence against women while 298 are violence against children.

Data shows that Baguio city topped the list with 210 cases; Benguet, 96; Ifugao, 37; Abra, 33; Kalinga, 20; Apayao, 16; and Mountain Province, 12. In violence against children, Baguio city topped with 106 cases; Benguet, 55; Ifugao, 42; Abra and Kalinga with 30 each; Mountain Province, 22; and Abra, 13.

 Common abuses against women and children are physical, sexual, psychological or emotional, and economic violence. But most of the reported cases, were settled because of the intervention of influential family members aside from the fact that those accused were breadwinners.

Physical violence as the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm. It is the use of physical force to harm someone, it includes, but is not limited: scratching, pushing, shoving, throwing, grabbing, biting, chocking, shaking, hair-pulling, slapping, punching, hitting and other physical activities.

While for sexual violence is defined as sexual act that is committed or attempted by another person without freely given consent of the victim or against someone who is unable to consent or refuse.

Emotional abuse is a tool by those who want to make their partners feel scared, crazy, worthless, or responsible for the abuse. The abusers goal is control over the victim. Emotional abuse is an important element of partner violence and is often cited by women as the most hurtful, leaving long term psychological scars.

Lastly, economic violence takes place when an abuser takes control of or limits access to shared or individual assets or limits the current or future earning potential of the victim as a strategy of power and control that is economic abuse.

Records presented is very alarming in our society particularly in a certain family since it can cause a devastating impact on all family members. In families where violence exists, daughters and sons may grow up assuming that violence is part of marriage.

In an interview, Riza said that she used to think that the violence she experience was normal because she experienced and witnessed the same from her father. She was wrong.

Due to increasing cases of DIV, a Women’s Desk was put up in every city or municipality. Where in the “Women’s Desk” project was established in 2008 to 2010. The project is an example of a process by which local institutions and services have appropriated gender-mainstreaming methods in economic integration policies.

This aims to be a space for consultation and coordination between the various local services in order to improve the services provided for the women beneficiaries. It provides a range of services, starting with comprehensive care for women in precarious situations, listening to them to ascertain their problems and needs, providing them with information and referring them to either the relevant local services in case of legal, health, sociocultural or educational problems, or to the appropriate services for job seeking and socio-professional integration.

The project seeks the active involvement of women in local development through, improved access for women to local services in the region by providing them with information relating to all existing services, provided by both public services and associations.

Despite of this program, the authorities are still having a hard time, since some of the victims remain silent. This is due to some victims are being trapped in a cycle of violence. One of the reason is the victim may be economically dependent on the batterer, and not having a marketable job skill.

Often, the victims stay for the sake of their children, or the batterer make threats of violence against their children if the victim tries to leave.

“Ket syempre mabutengak nga mangipulong kadagiti awtoridad iti araramiden ni lakay ko kenyak gapo ta apan na siyak bagbagaan nga no ipulong ko ket mas karkaro nga dangran na siyak, nagnangruna dagita anak ko. Kayat ko koma nga ibaga ken da nanang na metlang ngem ada ladta day panang konsinte da keni lakay ko. (I was scared to report my husband to the authorities since he threatened to hurt me and my children. I wanted to seek help from his parents but his parents seemed to tolerate him.) Aling Gina a mother of four, said.

Still the authorities such as the head of La Trinidad women’s Desk, La Trinidad Municipal Police Station, Department of Social Welfare and Development and other offices encourages the victims of Violence against women including the children to report. This is not just to record such cases but also to give appropriate actions to the perpetrators.

“I feel safe now,” Riza said.

“When you are suffering from abuse, do not be afraid to seek help. Speak out!” Riza bravely ended.//

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