To strengthen the campaign to end Violence Against Women and their Children (VAWC) through the USE RA 9262 project, the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) and the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) organized focused group discussion (FGD) and round table discussion (RTD) last February 16 to 18, 2011 and March 23 to 25, 2011.
Non-government organizations and social workers participated in the FGD on the first day and representatives of government institutions belonging to the Regional Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Trafficking and Violence Against Women and Their Children (RIACAT-VAWC) joined in for the Duty Bearers’ RTD on the subsequent days. Held at the Sulo Riviera Hotel in Quezon City and Apo View Hotel in Davao City, the events gathered participants from Luzon, and Visayas and Mindanao (Vis-Min), respectively.
RIACAT-VAWC comprises different government agencies concerned with the implementation of the Anti-VAWC law, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Philippine National Police.
The discussions sought to identify the gaps in the implementation of the “Anti-Violence against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (R.A. 9262).” Participants tackled the common problems experienced by victims in accessing their rights, such as the difficulty in obtaining protection orders from the barangay offices or the court. Protection orders are supposed to provide immediate help to victims of violence by preventing the perpetrators from hurting them again.
WCC Executive Director Theresa Balayon explained that these gaps between the promises of R.A. 9262 and the experiences of survivors underscore the importance of a close collaboration among service providers, duty bearers and survivors.
In addition, they discussed how the stakeholders can strengthen their institutions’ response and programs toward the elimination of VAWC, with reference to the Gap Assessment Report consolidated by ASSIST and WCC from the period of 2005 to the present.
Ms. Theresa Balayon, Executive Officer of WCC, reiterated that for the government and for the Fiipino people to walk the straight path, there must be a radical change in the society’s normative views of gender roles, leaning toward more sensitivity and gender balance.
USE R.A.9262 or Undertaking Survivors’ Experiences (in accessing) R.A. 9262, a two-year research, capacity-building, and networking project, is funded by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) of the European Commission.
“The program is currently in its second year and all these consultations with various stakeholders regarding the gaps in the implementation of the law are carefully being facilitated by WCC and ASSIST because we want something fruitful to come out of it, a strong network of gender sensitive non-State and State actors who are bent on eliminating VAWC,” shared by Ms. Sheena Opulencia, USE R.A. 9262 Project Manager.
The organizers also emphasized that violence takes on many forms – physical, psychological and economic, making it imperative for duty bearers to find ways to respond in a holistic manner. To promote awareness on these, as well as other issues concerning the Anti-VAWC campaign, ASSIST and WCC promised to hold small group discussions in the communities.
Opulencia also reminded the participants that for the project to succeed, it needs the full support and cooperation of everyone, as more activities for the final year of project implementation are well underway. #