DID President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on illegal drugs help reduce cases of violence against women and children (VAWC)?
It did, according to the Iloilo City Police Office-Women and Children Protection Desk (ICPO-WCPD).
Senior Insp. Marie Faith Superio, ICPO-WCPD chief, said VAWC cases lodged with their office often involved perpetrators who, if not drunk, were high on drugs.
“The war on drugs has effects to VAWC. Our policies are very strict now. We saw that the trend of VAWC is decreasing. You see, most of the perpetrators abused their victims while they were drunk or high on drugs,” Superio said in an interview with The Daily Guardian.
ICPO-WCPD record indicated that 97 cases of violation of Republic Act 9262 (Anti-Violence against Women and Their Children Act of 2004) were filed in January to February 2017.
The latest figure is 39 percent lower against 160 VAW cases reported in the same period last year. A total of 923 VAW cases were reported in 2016.
ICPO-WCPD also noted a decline in reported cases of violence against children (VAC) in the same period.
Data showed 86 reported VAC cases or violation of RA 7610 (Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act) in January and February this year. The 2017 cases are 24 percent lower than the 114 incidents reported in the same period last year.
The perpetrators are spouses/live-in partners or someone who has the authority in the household, “who exert power and dominance over the victim.”
Superio also attributed the decline to the public’s awareness on the rights of women and children and the laws that protect them.
“If the victims know their rights, expect increase in reporting. If the partners know the rights of women, then the decline in the incidents of abuses. But we don’t look at the increase in reporting in a negative way – it is positive as it means more women are aware of their rights, and know where to report,” she said.
The ICPO-WCPD conducts VAWC fora in schools, barangays and institutions to discuss how VAWC can be prevented.
SAY ‘NO’, SEEK HELP
Physical abuse, though most prevalent, is not the only type of abuse that women suffer.
There is also economic abuse where the partner abandons his financial obligation to the wife and children.
But Superio said economic abuse sometimes come with physical-psychological abuse.
“When the abused woman wants to separate because her rights are violated, the perpetrator would not provide financial support to the victim and the children,” she explained.
Superio advised women to know the red flags indicating they are abused: “Once you are physically hit by your partner, I am very sure there will be another similar incident, regardless of how good your partner looks, we cannot tell whether he is the violent type or not.”
When the abuse happens, immediately seek help, she advised.
“When it happens, you have to say no and stop, then, run and report. There are offices that can help you. You are not alone in this fight,” Superio stressed.
Statistics can only be an indicator as predators still lurk in households, offices, parking lots, alleys, streets, offices, jeep/buses, waiting for the right time to strike their prey.
Superio urged women to be conscious of safety, and urged women to observe precautions to not expose themselves to abusers.
“You can prevent it. You observe precautions. If you work on a graveyard shift, always walk with your peers as you are most prone victim when you are alone. If you know you will be walking in dark streets or alleys, have your family member or someone you know walk you or fetch you,” she said.
“You have to learn to defend yourself. You can use your pencils and ballpens in your bag, then, find the chance to run and ask for help. When you are riding a cab, inform your relatives of the driver’s name, make sure the driver heard you,” she added.
For women who deny that they are abused, and who chose to keep their sufferings to themselves, Superio advised: “Indi kamu magkahuya, magkahadlok or mag-alang-alang.”
“Whatever you experienced, there are many agencies that are willing to help you, we have social workers who will assist you. Rest assured we will treat your cases confidential,” she added.
Based on data from the Center for Women’s Resources, one woman or child was raped every 53 minutes in 2010.
CWR believes the VAWC stats are still conservative as some victims, especially those who experienced sexual harassment and acts of lasciviousness, did not have the courage to report cases to the authorities.
“The culture of silence discouraged victims to report the abuses they experienced. In cases of family members, victims hesitated because of the possible incarceration of their relative, who are often the breadwinner. “In rape cases, fear and embarrassment caused women to refrain from reporting their traumatic experience,” CWR said.
March is Women’s Month. This year’s celebration theme is “We Make Change Work for Women.”