In line with the 16-day campaign to combat Violence Against Women and their Children, this Forum was conceptualized by the DSWD Field Office I in cooperation with the City Government of Laoag. Eighty barangay captains of Laoag City, 10 members of the Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina, CSWDO and DSWD Regional Staff attended.
Laoag City Assistant Prosecutor, Atty. Myra Sheila M. Nalupta–Barba defined the role of men-leaders or barangay captains in the combat of violence against women and their children as a very timely activity in response to the present situation of women and children.
DSWD Regional Director Porfiria M. Bernardez revealed in her message that around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way — most often by someone she knows, including by her husband or another male family member; one woman in four has been abused during pregnancy.
Bernardez also mentioned that violence against women and children is a major health and human rights concern. Women can experience physical or mental abuse throughout their lifecycle, in infancy, childhood and/or adolescence, or during adulthood or older age. While violence has severe health consequences for the affected, it is a social problem that warrants an immediate coordinated response from multiple sectors.
With the role of the barangay captains in the community as prime advocates and implementers of the law, Bernardez challenged them to provide more seriousness in helping the victims. She also underscored that there has to be strong statement among men nowadays, which is, “Real men don’t hurt. Our future has no violence against women”. The change of language is not only to be able to reach out to men; it is necessary to use a more positive language to give men a chance to be a part of a positive change of society.
Mrs. Josephine V. Dumlao, Unit-Head of the Retained Community-based Services revealed that in 2004 there were 388 cases of women in difficult circumstances, this number decreased to 369 in 2005. On cases of violence against women there were 250 cases served by DSWD and PNP, this increased by 30 percent in 2005 with 362 reported and served cases.
Assistant City Prosecutor of Laoag City, Atty. Myra Sheila M. Nalupta-Barba provided a very comprehensive and explicit explanation of the RA 9262. She began with the situationer of women. In 2002, DSWD provided services to 1,417 women in especially difficult circumstances; while in 2003 there were 1,846 physically abused / maltreated cases.
Barba defined violence against women and children as any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or a Against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse, including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty (Sec.3)
Barba also cited nineteen (19) most reasons why women stay in abusive relationships according to the Women’s Legal Bureau (WLB): the man might change for the better; she still loves the man despite everything; she cannot stand to have a broken family; she is doing it for the children; she cannot support the children by herself; she does not want to be blamed by her parents for the break-up of the family; she is afraid of what the husband might do to her; the husband might take her children; she probably deserves the beating; to maintain the good reputation of the man; wife-beating is part of the hazards of getting married, it is just natural for women to get beaten; she pities the man because nobody else understands him; if she improves herself, she will not get beaten; she is afraid to be alone and lonely; she does not know she has the right not to be beaten; it is a family affair and others should not meddle; he might lose his job if she calls the police; she grew up thinking that pleasing a man is a woman’s responsibility; and ; she is used to it and will miss it.
She also mentioned of the Battered Woman Syndrome, which is a scientifically defined pattern of psychological and behavioral symptoms found in women living in battering relationships as a result of cumulative abuse. Any woman found out experiencing this syndrome is not criminally liable to whatever ill actions done by the abused women to her perpetrators.
It was also reiterated that a woman is considered battered when she has been through the cycle of violence at least twice.
Penalties of the acts that constitute VAWC based on the following: (Sec. 6) 1) Imprisonment based on the provisions of the Revised Penal Code if attempted, frustrated or consummated parricide, murder or homicide; 2) Fine ranging from P100,000 to P300,000; and 3) Mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment; 4) Report compliance to the court.
More importantly, Atty. Barba fully emphasized on Section 30 of the RA 9262, the duties of the barangay officials and law enforcers:
Respond immediately to a call for help or request for assistance or protection of the victim by entering the dwelling if necessary, whether or not a protection order has been issued and ensure the safety of the victim/s;
Confiscate any deadly weapon in the possession of the perpetrator or within plain view;
Transport or escort the victim/s to a safe place of their choice or to a clinic or hospital;
Assist the victim in removing personal belongings from the house;
Assist the Brgy. Official and other government officers or employees who respond to a call for help;
Ensure the enforcement of the protection orders issued by the punong barangay or the courts;
Arrest the suspected perpetrator even without a warrant when any of the acts of violence is occurring, or when he/she has personal knowledge that any act of abuse has just been committed, and there is imminent danger to the life or limb of the victim as defined in this act; and
Immediately report the call for assessment or assistance of the DSWD, Social Welfare Development of LGU’s or accredited non- government organizations (NGO’s)
In conclusion, it was pointed out by Mrs. Dumlao that there are still a lot of cases which are not reported and hidden by their own families. She then encouraged the barangay captains to watch and report such cases to PNP or DSWD for proper intervention from authorities.
Iryn Q. de los Reyes, Contributor