Domestic Violence Awareness Month Around the World: Philippines
Jennifer Ferariza Meneses speaks about domestic violence prevention in the Philippines.
In observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Rev. Neal Christie, the Assistant General Secretary for Education and Leadership Formation, interviewed advocates against domestic and gender-based violence from around the world.
This is the fourth in a series of articles this month highlighting the work United Methodists across the globe are doing to end domestic violence.
The Philippines: Jennifer Ferariza Meneses
Jennifer Ferariza Meneses is the Executive Secretary of the Board of Women’s Work in the Philippines Central Conference.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month in the United States. Is this the case in the Philippines? Is there a time during the year devoted to awareness of domestic violence and women?
We don’t have a particular Domestic Violence Awareness month, but this year, the Philippine Commission on Women has launched an 18-day campaign to end violence against women, which will occur from November 25 to December 12, 2019.
The 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women supports the Philippine government’s goal of protecting the human rights of women and girls, and upholds its commitment to address all forms of gender-based violence as mandated by the 1987 Constitution.
Each year, November 25 is the National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children, when government agencies are mandated to raise awareness on the problem of violence and the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.
This campaign started on November 25, 1991 which is the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, and lasted through December 10, which is the International Human Rights Day, in order to emphasize that violence against women is a human rights violation and to ensure better protection for survivors and victims of violence.
In 2002, the Philippine government, through the Philippine Commission on Women, joined the global campaign, initially to push for laws and the establishment of institutional mechanisms to address violence against women.
The Philippine Commission on Women, in coordination with Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Children (IACVAWC), is tasked to lead, monitor, and evaluate the annual nationwide observance of the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW. Adopting the theme “VAW-free community starts with Me” for years 2016 to 2021, the campaign emphasizes everyone’s commitment and contributions on ending gender-based violence and presents an ideal picture of a violence-free community, inspiring the general public to make a personal commitment to end violence against women and children.
This year’s campaign continues to underscore the significant role of individuals, especially the youth, in fighting violence against women and girls within various institutions. It focuses on Primary Prevention to reduce incidents of violence against women across the country, which can be achieved by empowering individuals to know and claim their rights, and to educate them where to seek help in cases of violence.
This campaign aims to:
- Promote awareness on the forms of violence women and girls experience;
- Provide information on laws protecting women and girls;
- Feature VAW-related services that people can access and avail; and
- Gather public support for the campaign (source: www.pcw.gov.ph)
How do UM congregations address domestic violence?
For the Philippines Central Conference experience, it is the women themselves—the United Methodist Women’s Society of Christian Service (UMWSCS) in each local congregation, deaconesses, clergy women and female clergy spouses—who take the lead to address domestic violence. They do basic counseling and psycho-spiritual support for the victims.
They also accompany the victims to seek assistance from the women’s desk of the Philippine National Police in their municipality for filing of complaints.
Awareness-raising campaigns on the promotion of the rights of women in the local churches must be promoted and strengthened.
What impact do the trainings on domestic violence have in the community?
For the national level, the Board of Women’s Work has been offering seminars and trainings on violence against women and children for our partner women’s organizations—UMWSCS, deaconesses, clergywomen and clergy spouses. Recently, the United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines requested us to facilitate study sessions and discussions on VAWC among our youth. They too recognize the urgent need for proper education and understanding the basic principles of protecting their rights from any forms of (sexual) violence.
Through these initiatives, our women and youth have been empowered and commit themselves to become advocates for the protection of the rights of women, youth and children from any forms of violence which includes domestic violence.
What legislation or public policy guides your work on domestic violence? Are there laws that need to be addressed that can strengthen protection of women and children. In violent situations?
One of the major accomplishments of the Philippine 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 (source: www.pcw.gov.ph)
What motivates you to end domestic violence through the church?
It is imperative of our faith as Christians and as United Methodists to alleviate suffering of our poor people for no one must be left behind in experiencing God’s promise of life in abundance.
For the Board of Women’s Work, we continue to commit to end violence in all its forms through our collective acts of prayers and faith. We would continue to engage in social action and advocacy work to end VAW, in our local context and even through global campaigns and initiatives.