Guaranteeing social protection for women
increases their chances of leaving abusive relationships
On International Women’s Day, an alliance of social movements highlighted the issue of violence against women (VAW) and the need for universal and comprehensive social protection measures that has a life-cycle approach in order to make it less difficult for women to leave abusive relationships.
“One of the factors that most women endure abusive relationships is because of the economic violence they suffer in their partnerships, where they are made to be financially dependent on their partners. Thus, even when they are repeatedly physically harmed and verbally abused, they find it hard to leave the home having no means to fend for themselves and their children,” said Anna Maria Nemenzo, co-convenor of DIGNIDAD or Buhay na may Dignidad para sa Lahat, a coalition of various cause-oriented groups advancing comprehensive social protection.
Data show that from 1997 to 2013, the number of VAW cases has increased by over 500% as reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP). In 1997, the number of reported VAW cases was 3,687. This rose to 5,734 in 2005 and drastically increased to 23,865 in 2013.
“This increase may be attributed to the rise in awareness of women regarding VAW and women-related laws that has encouraged them to speak up and report cases. But this is also an indication of how prevalent VAW is and the real data could even be bigger if we include unreported cases,” said Nemenzo, who is among the pioneers in the Philippine women’s movement and also currently lead convener of Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay or KAMP.
According to Nemenzo, there is a need for government to institutionalize universal and comprehensive social protection measures in order for abused women to break free from the cycle of violence and increase their chances of living a life of dignity.
“For one, the provision of jobs that pay a living wage as well as support for informal work may help women become less economically dependent on their partners and encourage them to imagine a life beyond their abusive relationships”, she said. “They could wean themselves away from economic dependence, have their own money, as well as demand support for the responsibilities from the fathers of their children.”
Nemenzo also pointed out that measures ensuring reproductive healthcare could enable women to have more control of their bodies and avoid situations where their husbands decide to get them pregnant and leave them with the caring and rearing of the children.
“The fact that most women have the primary responsibility over their children further discourages them from leaving abusive relationships. They suffer the abuse as they think about their children’s situation and future. If reproductive health services are available to women, they wouldn’t end up having more children than they could care for.”
DIGNIDAD calls on all presidentiables to adopt universal and comprehensive social protection that would ensure a life of dignity for all.
“The next administration must exert political will to institutionalize and enforce social protection measures to ensure that everyone, especially marginalized sectors of Philippine society like women, and particularly those suffering from VAW, enjoy their full human rights and freedoms,” Nemenzo said.
DIGNIDAD pointed out the need to address worsening poverty and deepening inequality through redistribution of wealth, resources, benefits, and privileges, to fulfill the social and economic rights of the people in order to live a life of dignity.
It presents proposal that must be legislated, with constitutional support, institutionalised nationwide, and universalized to guarantee all Filipinos access to these necessities in life. These are: 1) Decent Work and Livelihood; 2) Decent and Affordable Housing, 3) Free and Quality Health Care; 4) Safe and Reliable Public Transport; 5) Free Education up to the Tertiary Level; 6) Safe, Adequate and Affordable Food; and 7) Living Pensions for all Senior Citizens and income support to persons with disabilities, unemployed, and calamity victims.
March 8, 2016
Contacts: DIGNIDAD Media Officer Don Pangan (mobile: 09233250192)