By: Ron Jacob Almaiz, Frances Zarah de la Peña, Jam Louisse Natan
Domestic violence against women and children goes a long way back in the history of the Philippines. Although violence is a threat to everyone, women and children are particularly susceptible to become victims of such, due to a variety of factors, one of which may include lack of appropriate means of protection, thereby contributing more to the risk of domestic violence. Up to this day, domestic violence against women and children is still very much present in our society and it continues to be a serious public concern. The fact that many are still suffering from it cannot be denied.
The pandemic that we are currently facing further heightens women’s and children’s vulnerability to violence in a domestic setting. Movement since the start of the quarantine in the Philippines has been restricted and victims have spent more time enclosed in their homes with their abusers. Data from the PCW obtained by Rappler shows that 804 incidents of gender-based violence and violence against women and children were reported from March 15 to April 30 – the period when Luzon and other parts of the country were on lockdown. The number was taken by PCW from the Philippine National Police’s Women Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC). This decreased number of cases as compared to the previous months could mean many different things. This could mean that the cases of violence against women and children have indeed declined or it could mean that the chances these victims could seek help were stretched thin.
Republic Act 9262 which was signed on May 8, 2004, by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is an act defining violence against women and their children, providing for protective measures for victims, prescribing penalties therefore, and for other purposes. It is the objective of this study to discuss the effectiveness of this act which is also known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, especially amidst the pandemic that we are all now experiencing.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Generally, the study intends to tackle on how effective the program of the law regarding the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children especially amidst the pandemic that we are all now experiencing. Specifically and more importantly, the researchers aim to achieve the following objectives:
- To determine the age where violence often occurs in a lifetime of the person.
- To know whether social class is a factor for these violence that are frequently experienced by both women and children.
- To identify the root causes of most, if not all, violence that happens inside the household of the affected population.
- To analyze the existing program implemented to prevent or lessen the cases involving these unfortunate incidents that women and their children repeatedly go though.
- To determine whether the pandemic played a big role in the rise of the cases regarding the aforementioned topic being discussed.
Gender violence is the most widespread violation of human rights, taking multiple forms: domestic violence, sexual abuse of girls, harassment at work, human trafficking, and rape by husbands or by strangers, in refugee camps, or as a tactic in war, and others (Alvarez and Lally, 2014). Several studies around the world have shown an increase in violence between partners inside their household.
With this pandemic that we are now experiencing, it is not surprising that the rate drastically rise. Reasons regarding these have been suggested. First, disasters and pandemic may reinforce aggressive behaviors to manage relationship between the people inside their homes. Second, post-pandemic stressors are present and people tend to have difficulty going back to normal after having been quarantined for a long time. Lastly, women and children have a more limited access to seek support that might aid them when these unfortunate instances happen. To know more about these, the researchers have piloted a study in a wayr that could be understood in a simple manner.
In this paper, the researchers aimed to determine several factors that affect the rise of violence against women and children in this pandemic. After coming up with the research topic, the researchers have drafted an abstract in order for the study to have an overview on how to handle the paper substantially to avoid lapses. With the title on hand, the researchers then made studied several similar cases found in the internet. With the prevalence of these violence, it has been concluded that these cases exist not only domestically but also globally. Subsequently, the researchers have made a questionnaire that has been distributed online to 50 participants who were identified to take part in the legal research study being conducted.
Successively conducting the survey, the researchers then collected the data and started to analyze them. With the data that the researchers have gathered, they have come up to a conclusion stated herein this study regarding the issue that has been decided to be tackled in this research paper. Generally, the researchers have used some research materials significant for this study. The questionnaire attached is the one that researchers have used. There were also research studies found in the internet that have been used as a guide and to serve as reading materials in order to complete this legal research study. Finally, the researchers compiled the materials, data, and instruments that have been made and gathered for the completion of this paper.
50 Total Number of Respondents
To determine the age where violence often occurs in a lifetime of the person.
From the data the researchers have received, there were 8 individuals out of the total 50 respondents who stated that they have experienced violence at home.
Among the eight individuals, the most affected were those in the age bracket of 36 to 40 wherein there were three persons and two individuals coming from the age bracket of 41 to 45. The data shows no concentration from the interviewed respondents with regard to their age during which they have experienced violence.
15- 20 years old – 1
21-25 years old – 1
26-30 years old – 0
31-35 years old – 1
36-40 years old – 3
41-45 years old – 2
46-50 years old – 0
To know whether social class is a factor for these violence that are frequently experienced by both women and children.
As it appears in the data collected, from the occupation of those who have experienced violence at home, out of the eight, four are employed, one is self-employed, two are unemployed, and only one who is an Overseas Filipino Worker.
Employed – 4
Self- employed – 1
Unemployed – 2
Overseas Filipino Worker – 1
Student – 0
Homemaker – 0
To identify the root causes of most, if not all, violence that happens inside the household of the affected population.
Generally, the individuals who claimed to have experienced violence at home mentioned that financial matters greatly affect their condition. These monetary dependence have caused to be a huge factor among their household especially from four respondents who experienced violence during the pandemic.
From the point of view of the four aforementioned respondents, they have encountered heightened violence during the pandemic since the implemented lockdowns affected their livelihoods and jobs as their source of income. From thereon, they had a problem how to get going which is primarily the problem since the limited physical activities have burdened most, if not all, people since the break out of the pandemic. The distress brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only financially but also mentally, physically, emotionally, and all the other aspects that were drastically taken away from the normal lives of people.
Meanwhile, from the end of the four other respondents who experienced violence way before the pandemic happened, have also stated that the violence in their household intensified as pandemic worsen over time. The factors from the first four individuals were not any different from their experience rather it doubled their anxiety for the unknown that is coming whenever they face such difficulty.
To analyze the existing program implemented to prevent or lessen the cases involving these unfortunate incidents that women and their children repeatedly go through.
Republic Act No. 9626 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 is an implemented program that is implemented in order to avoid and prevent the occurrence of violence in and out of the household of every Filipino citizens.
Leaning towards the improvement of every Filipino wives and Children have per se its loopholes in its employment. From the collected data of the researchers, eight of which who were affected of violence have mentioned that the Government program have not reached to their assistance. It may be because they were not able to afford to come to the authorities or there were instances that they may have sought help but the implementation were not stringent enough to consider their situation as important as it is, have they been given attention and importance.
To determine whether the pandemic played a big role in the rise of the cases regarding the aforementioned topic being discussed.
Despite the limited number of respondents, it is clearly shown that the pandemic did not negate the cases of violence at home. Violence is not limited only to physical experience, it could also be in the form of mental, emotional or psychological – which many educational research studies proved and supported to have been common among individuals as the generation opens up and being exposed to a lot of factors contributing to these aspects.
Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 virus, there were only four respondents who have experienced violence at home. It is of no secret that there is a rise of a hundred percent from the data that the researchers have collected.
While quarantine is an effective infection control measure, it can lead to significant health, social, economic and psychological consequences. COVID-19 and violence against women are inter- related pandemics, and health care system should learn from the actual tragic scenario in order to identify creative solutions to provide clinical care and forensic services for victims of violence, and to be able to face other future calamities, in which the hospitals might become inaccessible (Viero et. al., 2020). The prevalence of violence inside the domestic household that many Filipino experience should send a signal to the lawmakers that there is a need for a more stricter and effective implementation of laws protecting the rights of those who are affected.
There are a number of studies that provided warnings about the rise of the risk of domestic violence rates, it could have been an incident or as a direct consequence of the restrictions established by most areas all over the country to manage the pandemic. Most studies showed that there were factors that heightened the aspects that would lead the violence to occur as often as it was even before the pandemic broke out. In line with this on-going considerations, the researchers recommend for a better program raising awareness on the problem of violence against women and children during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The said program could start in a simple infographics containing information where those who experience violence could seek help. These infographics can be publicized in the internet since the online platform is where everyone else rely to get news from ever since the pandemic happened. It cannot be denied that the internet played a big role in disseminate information and data for people’s consumption.
For many women and children that are confined at home with a violent member, the struggle is whether these women and children are dependent upon this member that they would find it hard to depart. This pandemic brought unemployment and increased the number of job losses. This fact did not help the situation that the victims are now in. This economic dependence is one of the factor why women and their children cannot depart from their partner. With this, the researchers recommend that there should be microcosm of implementations that support the right and liberty of these determined affected people. The Government, more particularly the Local Government Units, should take part in making orders as a part of their program that would protect their constituents that exhibit or show that they experience violence inside their homes. There should be an allotted compensation to start up in helping these people.
Programs with regard to these issues should be executed and employed stringently and that the people in authority should see to it that they are being followed in order to avoid or lessen these incidents. Provisions of the law would be deem useless if it they are not being followed. Hence, a more firm engagement in these activities could strengthen the ground of these women to empower them and their children to move off from these violence. There should be a trend of denouncing violence against women and children during the current COVID-19 pandemic. A helpline or a support hotline is also one of a mean that would help those who suffer to seek help and reach authorities in order for them to report incidents of violence. This would provide assistance for the victims. As well as counselling for those who have been traumatically damaged.
Lastly, when all other existing protocols and implementations are not operational to help lessen these occurrences, a proposal of new strategies for the management and control of violence against women and their children during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Government Units should conduct study, both for legislative and academic purposes, to implement a much better working and suitable programs with guidelines that would work to help eradicate these violence for the protection of these victims. The “stay at home” policies have increased VAW itself, creating a “shadow pandemic within the pandemic”, as it was called by the United Nations, involving women who are obliged to tolerate abuse within the home because of lockdowns decided by Governments all over the word to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic (Viero et. al, 2020). Safe shelters should be given importance and be constructed to home those who cannot afford and those are dependent on their member that often cause violence towards them.
These recommendations are only a number of many means that would help the victims of violence. There could be so much more to be implemented in the years to come. For now, with the data on hand, the researchers have come up with the abovementioned recommendations on how to mitigate the violence being experienced by the women and children in our society today amidst the global pandemic that we are experiencing.
Álvarez, O. F., & Alexis, L. K. (2014). Violence against Women and Children. A Distant and Domestic Hell. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 161, 7-11. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.12.002 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042814060959
Viero, A., Barbara, G., Montisci, M., Kustermann, K., & Cattaneo, C. (2021). Violence against women in the Covid-19 pandemic: A review of the literature and a call for shared strategies to tackle health and social emergencies. Forensic Science International, 319, 110650. doi:10.1016/j.forsciint.2020.110650 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33340849/
This paper would not have been possible without the help of so many people in so many ways. This paper was made through hard work, dedication and passion.
First of all, we would like to thank God Almighty for His grace, wisdom, knowledge and guidance as we formulated this paper. We definitely could not have done it on our own strength.
Immeasurable appreciation and deepest gratitude for the help and support are extended to the following persons who in one way or another have contributed in making this study possible.
We would like to thank our mentor, Atty. Jocelle Batapa – Sigue for her supervision and encouragement throughout the entire study. We are truly grateful to Atty. Sigue who imparted her wisdom and knowledge in order for us to produce this paper in good form. Our statistician, who was very particular when it came to details and lapses that we had and for sharing her knowledge and helped in the analysis of data and its statistical computations. To friends and colleagues who validated our research instrument and for their valuable comments and constructive criticisms to further improve our paper.
To our respondents, who were very cooperative despite the inconvenience, and the sensitivity of the data that were required by the survey questionnaires.
Finally, we would like to thank the support and the love from our families who motivated us throughout the making of this paper.