[Press Release] Women’s Groups Collectively Call for Justice and a Stop to Violence -WMW

Women’s Groups Collectively Call for Justice and a Stop to Violence

Two days before the world marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (VAW), over five hundred (500) women protested this morning, at Welcome Rotonda in the boundary of Quezon City and Manila.

Women leaders belonging to the World March of Women – Pilipinas donned Ang Probinsyano outfits to denounce the denial by the Philippine National Police (PNP) that the sex-for-freedom scheme is not a widespread practice in the institution. “Especially in urban poor areas, there has been no let-up in government’s war on drugs through nightly executions since Duterte came to power in 2016,” said Ana Maria R. Nemenzo, National Coordinator of WomanHealth Philippines.

“Despite PNP’s denial, the sex for freedom scheme of the PNP is unsurprising given their commander-in-chief’s misogynistic attitude that aggravates the normalization of sexual violence in Filipino’s everyday culture. Meanwhile, state violence persists especially against human rights defenders, workers and their leaders, members of indigenous communities, women community leaders, and political activists who continue to expose and resist government’s total disregard of human rights,” added Jelen Paclarin, Executive Director of Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB).

Jean Enriquez, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), assailed the widespread sexual abuse committed against women in exchange for life or liberty of their partners or their own person. “At least nine (9) women have come out in one psychological first aid session we conducted in a group of thirty (30), and they could not file charges because of the impunity shielding police officers who have committed murder or rape in the context of the president’s anti-war campaign,” according to Enriquez.

Lisa Garcia, Executive Director of Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA), stated that “this violence, perpetuated by a patriarchal social structure and exacerbated by Duterte, translates to the online world as well.” She underscored that the same gender-based violence is alive and well in digital spaces and that it impacts women who express their thoughts, identities and sexualities on the internet, as well as human rights defenders who are willing to challenge misogyny online. “Duterte and his administration are trying to normalize a sexist and violent rhetoric that silences those speaking for women’s rights on digital platforms,” added Garcia.

Judy Miranda, Secretary General of Partido Manggagawa (PM), said that another kind of violence is ‘killing’ women—economic violence. “The poor in particular have to constantly pull the continually expanding ends to meet so that their families can survive economic violence,” stated Miranda.

Bernadette Ocampo of SENTRO said that the government has added insult to injury, with inflation at a high 6.4 to 6.7 percent, in approving an incredulously low P25 wage increase. “With a kilo of rice now costing P50, ordinary vegetables which have been the poor’s daily fare now priced at an average of P100 a kilo, galunggong, the so-called poor man’s food, reaching P150 a kilo, and basic jeepney fare at P9, daily survival has become a cruel struggle,” emphasized Ocampo.

Amparo Miciano, Secretary General of Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) stated that violence is also inflicted daily on the lives of small farmers, indigenous peoples, and rural communities by corporations that take away their lands, extract resources, and destroy their environments.

“Violence is a risk that hundreds of thousands of women have been taking and many experience when they migrate for work, especially as domestic workers, internally or abroad, for lack of economic opportunities and decent work in their immediate communities,” lamented Ellene Sana, Executive Director of Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA). “Poverty is violence; a life of dignity is everyone’s right, not just for those who can afford it,” Sana added.

The women’s groups announced that their series of activities during the 18 Days of Activism against VAW would culminate in protests also on Human Rights Day (Dec. 10) and Anti-Trafficking Day (Dec. 12).

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