Church teams with gov’t to protect women, children
By Leilanie G. Adriano
ABUSED women and children in this province found new comfort outside their homes as the Commission on Social Action of the Diocese of Laoag, in cooperation with concerned government authorities, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police and barangay officials here are set to work hand-in-hand to ensure the safety and welfare of women and children in Ilocos Norte.
In a one-day seminar attended by women and youth parishioners from the 28 parishes of the Laoag diocese at the St. Arnold Janssen Pastoral Hall, Batac City prosecutor Myra Shiela M. Nalupta-Barba gave a lecture on the laws affecting women and their children, while provincial social welfare officer Lilian Rin gave an overview on the status of women and children being exposed to domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, premarital sex and drug addiction.
Though the reported cases of affected women and children in the province is low and not considered “alarming”, Rin told The Ilocos Times that a massive information and education campaign still needs to be conducted “continuously”, especially in the grassroots level to let women and children know about their rights and thus be empowered.
SAC Director Fr. Leonardo Ruiz said the church concern is more on the “spiritual” and “moral” aspect of these women and children, hence the seminar was conducted to revive a women’s desk in every parish to assist the government in dealing with cases affecting women and children.
Ruiz added that the proposed women’s desk will also work to increase parishioners’ awareness of domestic violence and the impact of migration. They will also work to identify other issues concerning women and children and how communities can address these.
The priest further stated that parish leaders should engage community members in drafting a practical action plan.
Currently, Ruiz pointed out that “There is no basis for any action” on abuse or violence if it’s not reported due to a cultural taboo or other reasons. Sometimes, people helping women and children focus on legal aid, he noted.
He also mentioned that parish desks could educate families to prevent problems and help resolve them before they are elevated to courts.
Ilocos Times copyright 2008