Are Women's Rights Properly Observed In The Philippines
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Are women’s rights properly observed in the Philippines? We know it is. It just a matter of women being appropriately informed of their valuable rights as the other gender in our society, opposite to men.

This article may be such a symbolical way of describing the importance of women’s rights. Feminism, womanism, women’s lib, women’s suffrage, women’s movement, women’s liberation movement—all these are synonymous words for women’s rights which is focused on a social theory or political movement advocating for women’s rights or liberation.

As the descriptions mentioned above pertain to one of the many human rights, which may have happened to be the women’s rights, it is very overwhelming to categorically pronounce that “Women’s rights are human rights!”

While we all have human rights, such as the right to live in a society free of violence and prejudice, the right to the best possible physical and mental health, the right to education, the right to own property, the right to vote, and other similar rights, it is only fitting and just that women be granted all of these as humans.

Quoting the first two (2) stanzas of a poem about women’s rights:

“You cannot rob us of the rights we cherish,
Nor turn our thoughts away
From the bright picture of a “Woman’s Mission”
Our hearts portray.”

“We claim to dwell, in quiet and seclusion,
Beneath the household roof,–
From the great world’s harsh strife, and jarring voices,
To stand aloof;–.”

Annie Louisa Walker

Are women’s rights properly observed in the Philippines?

How are women’s rights properly observed in the Philippines? The government recognizes the role of women in the Philippines. That is why, many laws have been crafted to guarantee their protection and well-being, may it be in work or household. There are list of laws covering Filipino women’s rights, namely:

105-Day Expanded Maternity Leave Law

Republic Act No. 11210,[1]RA 11210 or the Expanded Maternity Leave Law, was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in February 2019. It expands the existing 60-day paid maternity leave (78 days for caesarian section birth for women employees in the private sector) to 105 days.

The statute also includes an option to prolong unpaid absence for an extra 30 days. Female single parents will receive an additional 15 days of paid maternity leave.

Prohibition on Discrimination Against Women

Republic Act No. 6725[2]RA 6725 forbids discrimination in employment terms and circumstances simply on the basis of a person’s gender. Discrimination is defined by this act as an employer preferring a male employee over a female employee solely on the basis of sex in terms of promotion, training opportunities, and other benefits.

Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004

The necessity of protecting the family and its members, especially women and children, from abuse and threats to their personal safety and security, is recognized by RA 9262. Consequently, the Philippine’s Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (VAWC) has been enacted to protect women and children from violence. This law, likewise, seeks to address the victims of violence, specifically women and their children, in accordance with the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other things.

Assistance for small-scale women entrepreneurs

This law, which is Republic Act No. 7882[3]RA 7882 aims to provide Filipino women every conceivable advantage in their goal of owning, operating, and managing small businesses. The Provision of Assistance to Women Engaged in Micro and Cottage Business Enterprises, and for Other Purposes Act was signed into law in February 1995.

Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995

Republic Act No. 7877[4]RA 7877 is a bill that covers sexual harassment in the workplace, education, or training. It was enacted into law on February 14, 1995, under the administration of former President Fidel Ramos. Sexual favors given as a condition of employment, promotions, or privileges; or the refusal to grant the sexual favor results in limiting, segregating, or classifying the employee in any way that discriminates, deprives, or diminishes employment opportunities, or otherwise negatively affects the employee, is illegal and unlawful, besides being a criminal act.

The Anti-Rape Law of 1997

According to RA 8353, anybody who obtains carnal knowledge of a woman using force, coercion, or intimidation, or through deception or grave abuse of authority, will be penalized. The offense may be penalized by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment, depending on the gravity of the case.

Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998

RA 8505 establishes the state’s policy of providing appropriate support and protection to rape victims. The government will coordinate its many departments and non-governmental groups to work together to construct and operate a rape crisis center in each province and city, which will support and protect rape victims in their cases and rehabilitation.

Magna Carta of Women

Republic Act No. 9710[5]RA 9710 is a comprehensive women’s human rights law that aims to abolish discrimination by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling, and promoting the rights of Filipino women, particularly those from underprivileged communities.

It establishes a legal framework for women’s rights based on international law. Executive Order 273, which specifies the approval and acceptance of the Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development, 1995-2025, is based on this statute.

National Women’s Day

Every year, on the eighth day of March, Republic Act No. 6949[6]RA 6949 proclaims a unique working holiday. All heads of government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations as well as local government units, and private-sector employers should encourage and provide adequate time and opportunities for their employees to engage and participate in any activity held within the premises of their respective offices or establishments to commemorate National Women’s Day.

Despite the Philippines’ laws safeguarding women’s rights, many women still endure discrimination based on their sex and gender. Gender inequality is at the root of a slew of issues that disproportionately impact women, including domestic and sexual abuse, poor wages, a lack of educational opportunities, and insufficient healthcare.

In view of this still existing problems about women’s rights, feminist movement or women’s liberation movement have fought hard to address this inequality, campaigning to change laws or taking to the streets to demand their rights are respected. And through this advocacy, new movements have flourished in the digital age, such as the #MeToo campaign which highlights the prevalence of gender-based violence and sexual harassment.

What is RA 9262 in the Philippines?

The “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004,” as previously noted, is one of numerous laws protecting women’s rights in the Philippines. To offer more context, under this act, the state recognizes the necessity of safeguarding the family and its members, particularly women and children, from abuse and threats to their personal safety and security. The VAWC Law is the most prevalent name for this legislation.

One of the relevant sections of this Act is the Section 2, as stated below:

“Section 2. Declaration of Policy- It is hereby declared that the State values the dignity of women and children and guarantees full respect for human rights. The State also recognizes the need to protect the family and its members particularly women and children, from violence and threats to their personal safety and security. Towards this end, the State shall exert efforts to address violence committed against women and children in keeping with the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution and the Provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments of which the Philippines is a party.”[7]Section 2, RA 9262

How does violence against women take place?

As stated in Section 3 of Republic Act No. 9262, the following phrases are defined to describe how violence against women occurs:

(a) “Violence against women and their children” refers to any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or 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. It includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:[8]Section 3, RA 9262

Physical Violence” refers to acts that include bodily or physical harm;[9]Id.

Sexual violence” refers to an act which is sexual in nature, committed against a woman or her child. It includes, but is not limited to:[10]Id.

a) rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, treating a woman or her child as a sex object, making demeaning and sexually suggestive remarks, physically attacking the sexual parts of the victim’s body, forcing her/him to watch obscene publications and indecent shows or forcing the woman or her child to do indecent acts and/or make films thereof, forcing the wife and mistress/lover to live in the conjugal home or sleep together in the same room with the abuser;[11]Id.

b) acts causing or attempting to cause the victim to engage in any sexual activity by force, threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm or coercion;[12]Id.

c) Prostituting the woman or child.[13]Id.

Psychological violence” refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not limited to intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse and mental infidelity. It includes causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a member of the family to which the victim belongs, or to witness pornography in any form or to witness abusive injury to pets or to unlawful or unwanted deprivation of the right to custody and/or visitation of common children.[14]Id.

Economic abuse” refers to acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent which includes, but is not limited to the following:[15]Id.

a) withdrawal of financial support or preventing the victim from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity, except in cases wherein the other spouse/partner objects on valid, serious and moral grounds as defined in Article 73 of the Family Code;[16]Id.

b) deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial resources and the right to the use and enjoyment of the conjugal, community or property owned in common;

c) destroying household property;[17]Id.

d) controlling the victims’ own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.[18]Id.

What is battered woman syndrome Philippines?

Before we define battered woman syndrome, we need to know “battery” first based on its definition under R. A. No. 9262:

 “Battery” refers to an act of inflicting physical harm upon the woman or her child resulting to the physical and psychological or emotional distress.[19]Section 3(b), RA 9262

 “Battered Woman Syndrome” refers to a scientifically defined pattern of psychological and behavioral symptoms found in women living in battering relationships as a result of cumulative abuse.[20]Section 3(c), RA 9262

To be defined as a battered woman, she must have gone through the battering cycle with her spouse or partner at least twice. Low self-esteem, conventional ideas about the house, family, and female sex role; emotional dependency on the dominating male; a propensity to take blame for the batterer’s conduct; and false hopes that the relationship would change are all common characteristics of abused women. The battered woman syndrome is defined by a three-part cycle of violence: (1) the building of stress; (2) the acute beating episode; and (3) the serene, loving (or, at the very least, nonviolent) phase.

The Supreme Court ruled that:

A battered woman has been defined as a woman “who is repeatedly subjected to any forceful physical or psychological behavior by a man in order to coerce her to do something he wants her to do without concern for her rights. Battered women include wives or women in any form of intimate relationship with men. Furthermore, in order to be classified as a battered woman, the couple must go through the battering cycle at least twice. Any woman may find herself in an abusive relationship with a man once. If it occurs a second time, and she remains in the situation, she is defined as a battered woman.”[21]People vs. Marivic Genosa, G. R. No. 135981, January 15, 2004

In the same jurisprudence, the High Court explained that:

Battered women exhibit common personality traits, such as low self-esteem, traditional beliefs about the home, the family and the female sex role; emotional dependence upon the dominant male; the tendency to accept responsibility for the batterer’s actions; and false hopes that the relationship will improve. More graphically, the battered woman syndrome is characterized by the so-called “cycle of violence,” which has three phases: (1) the tension-building phase; (2) the acute battering incident; and (3) the tranquil, loving (or, at least, nonviolent) phase.[22]Ibid.

Small battering occurs during the tension-building phase, this happens when the woman permits herself to be battered for minor offenses. To prevent the escalation of violence, she attempts to appease the abuser by being pleasant and nurturing to him or simply allowing him to get out of his way. Because the woman believes the male has the right to abuse her in the first place, this is a dangerous situation.

During the tension-building phase, minor battering occurs — it could be verbal or slight physical abuse or another form of hostile behavior. The woman usually tries to pacify the batterer through a show of kind, nurturing behavior; or by simply staying out of his way. What actually happens is that she allows herself to be abused in ways that, to her, are comparatively minor. All she wants is to prevent the escalation of the violence exhibited by the batterer. This wish, however, proves to be double-edged, because her “placatory” and passive behavior legitimizes his belief that he has the right to abuse her in the first place.[23]Ibid.

The second phase of a severe beating episode is marked by cruelty and devastation, and the woman has no control over the situation; only the batterer has the power to stop the violence.

The acute battering incident is said to be characterized by brutality, destructiveness and, sometimes, death. The battered woman deems this incident as unpredictable, yet also inevitable. During this phase, she has no control; only the batterer may put an end to the violence. Its nature can be as unpredictable as the time of its explosion, and so are his reasons for ending it. The battered woman usually realizes that she cannot reason with him, and that resistance would only exacerbate her condition.[24]Ibid.

When the acute beating episode is over, the final step of the cycle of violence begins. During this calm moment, the batterer may demonstrate sensitive and loving behavior toward his spouse as he becomes aware of his brutality and attempts to compensate by begging for forgiveness and making hollow promises not to repeat the assault. The abused woman, on the other hand, deludes herself into believing that the battery will never happen again, that the batterer will change, and that this “kind and loving man” is the genuine love of her life.

The final phase of the cycle of violence begins when the acute battering incident ends. During this tranquil period, the couple experience profound relief. On the one hand, the batterer may show a tender and nurturing behavior towards his partner. He knows that he has been viciously cruel and tries to make up for it, begging for her forgiveness and promising never to beat her again. On the other hand, the battered woman also tries to convince herself that the battery will never happen again; that her partner will change for the better; and that this “good, gentle and caring man” is the real person whom she loves.[25]Ibid.

In a bizarre world, an abused woman often feels that she is the batterer’s only source of emotional stability. As a result, she believes she is responsible for the abuser’s safety. Furthermore, she feels that she is the reason for the drubber and beater’s heinous crimes. She believes that her actions are wrong and that she is to blame for the tragic circumstances that have occurred. This is the stage in which the lady is mentally harassed.

This condition affects a large number of women in the Philippines. This is why the VAWC Law was created by the state to protect women who are victims of domestic abuse.

What is the battered woman syndrome defense?

Women who claim that killing their spouses is their only way out of life-threatening abuse might utilize battered woman syndrome as a defense. The abused woman syndrome broadens the concept of legal self-defense (BWS). According to this defense, an abused woman is effectively held captive in a violent household by a man who isolates and terrorizes her, convinced her that if she quits, he would follow her down and murder her.

As stated in Section 26 of the VAWC Law., “Battered Woman Syndrome as a Defense. – Victim-survivors who are found by the courts to be suffering from battered woman syndrome do not incur any criminal and civil liability notwithstanding the absence of any of the elements for justifying circumstances of self-defense under the Revised Penal Code.”[26]Section 26, RA 9262

“In the determination of the state of mind of the woman who was suffering from battered woman syndrome at the time of the commission of the crime, the courts shall be assisted by expert psychiatrists/ psychologists.”[27]Id.

A lot of women are victims of this syndrome in our country. This is the reason why the State enacted the VAWC Law in order to protect women who are experiencing such violence., for them to make use of this Battered Woman Syndrome as a defense in cases that they were accused on crimes they committed that were triggered by the physical, mental and emotional torture inflicted on them by their husband/partners.

What does abuse do to a woman?

A woman is abused through; (1) physical abuse and (2) emotional or verbal abuse. To explain further, the below-mentioned effects are prominent to abused women of each type, as stated:

“Physical abuse” is any physical force that injures you or puts your health in danger. Physical abuse can include shaking, burning, choking, hair-pulling, hitting, slapping, kicking, and any type of harm with a weapon like a knife or a gun. It can also include threats to hurt you and your children or family members. Physical abuse can also include restraining you against your will, by tying you up or locking you in a space. Physical abuse in an intimate partner (romantic or sexual) relationship is also called domestic violence.[28]Physical Abuse

Physical and mental health can be permanently harmed by physical abuse. Physical abuse can result in a variety of long-term health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and digestive issues. Abused women are more prone to suffer from depression, anxiety, and eating problems. As a coping mechanism, abused women may turn to alcohol or narcotics.

Emotional and verbal abuse can have short-term and long-lasting effects that are just as serious as the effects of physical abuse. Emotional and verbal abuse include insults and attempts to scare, isolate, or control you emotionally, while verbal abuse includes insults and attempts to scare, isolate, or control you. It’s also a hint that physical abuse is on the way. If physical violence begins, emotional and verbal abuse may follow. It is never your fault if you have been abused.

Final Thoughts

While it is a fact that the Philippines has enacted several laws protecting women from violence – Anti-Sexual Harassment, Anti-Rape and Rape Victim Assistance and Protection, Anti-Trafficking in Persons, Anti-Violence against Women and Children with Women’s and Children’s Desks and Services — yet the implementation leaves much to be desired. Knowledge of the laws among those who are supposed to enforce them -like the police and judges are scandalously minimal, and much less among those who need them for their own personal protection.

Protecting women’s rights makes the world a better place. According to the UN, “gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is not just a goal in itself, but a key to sustainable development, economic growth, and peace and security”. Research has shown this to be the case – society gets better for everyone when women’s rights are upheld and taken seriously.

How great are the women, that they deserve the respect due them! Women empowerment has to take the lead. As much as there are human rights, and women are humans, hence they are entitled to women’s rights.

To conclude, it is again, overwhelming to cite the last two (2) stanzas of this poem from same author mentioned in the introduction of this topic on women’s rights:

“So let us, unobtrusive and unnoticed,
But happy none the less,
Be privileged to fill the air around us
With happiness;

“To live, unknown beyond the cherished circle,
Which we can bless and aid;
To die, and not a heart that does not love us
Know where we’re laid.”

Annie Louisa Walker

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RALB Law | RABR & Associates Law Firm

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