Many cases of violence against women and children remain unreported

A downtrend in the number of reported cases of violence against women and children (VAWC) was reported by the Department of Health (DOH) Central Luzon Center for Health and Development (CLCHD).

The agency recorded a total of 1,583 reported cases of VAWC in 2018 followed by 1,489 in 2019; 1,160 in 2020; 1,159 in 2021; and 629 in 2022. 

However, DOH CLCHD Family Health Cluster Health Program Officer II Jesan Kate C. Nava said these figures only represent reported cases, and there are still a lot of unreported cases of VAWC in the country.

She said that one of the reasons why VAWC are not reported is that victims are ashamed, or they feel that they will only be victim-blamed. 

“For example, women who were cat-called on the streets because they wear shorts or shirts. We know that even if no matter what the woman wears, even if she wears pants or rolls up her sleeves, they are prone to rape”, Nava explained.

Another reason is that women have been shaped by our culture to depend on their husbands or partners and, lastly, because of love. 

With this, she encouraged victims of VAWC to not be afraid and come out so that perpetrators will be punished accordingly. 

“We call on the public to report any domestic violence or any cases of harassment in their community to the nearest barangay or police station. Let’s not be afraid and ashamed because we have a lot of laws that protect and promote the welfare of women, and we have many authorities who are trained to handle these cases”, Nava furthered.

She also discussed the four forms of gender-based violence, namely physical violence or act that causes physical or bodily harm as a result of unlawful physical force; sexual violence or sexual act performed on an individual without their consent; psychological violence or the act causing mental or emotional suffering to the victim; and economic violence or acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent.

In connection with this, she said Republic Act No. 9262, or the Anti-Violence against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, penalizes all forms of abuse and violence within the family and intimate relationships and classifies VAWC as a public crime.

Also, this act mandates the DOH to establish Women and Children Protection Unit (WCPU) in provincial hospitals and DOH-retained facilities and rehabilitation centers. 

Currently, there are 10 established WCPU in the region, namely Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center and Mariveles Mental Wellness and General Hospital in Bataan, Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in Pampanga, Dr. Paulino J. Garcia Memorial and Medical Center, DOH Mega Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center and Talavera General Hospital in Nueva Ecija, Bulacan Medical Center, Tarlac Provincial Hospital, and James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital in Zambales.

VAWC is any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women.

National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of VAWC is observed annually every 25th of November. This year’s celebration carries the theme “UNITED for a VAW-free Philippines. (MJSC/RGP-PIA 3)

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