Kalayaan: A story behind the eyes of a VAWC survivor

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Women plays a vital role in human progress and have a significant place in the society. They are not inferior to men but are capable of sharing all the responsibilities of life. Their main responsibility is to preserve human race, which made their capabilities unique.

Amidst the heaviness of their responsibilities lies a violence untold that will surely leave a scar for the rest of their lives. Violence Against Women (VAW) is a case that needs to be prioritized. A lot of stories are coming out. Victims are not that strong to fight for their rights.

“Mahal, nasasaktan na ako.”




This is just a part of her plea every time her partner would physically hurt her.

Lani (not her real name) is one of those thousands of women who are abused. For years, she has endured her relationship with John (not his real name), her live-in partner, despite of the various abuses she is experiencing. She hoped that her partner would change, the reason why she is tolerating it, but she failed.

Lani met John four years after she was left by her ex-husband. At first, John was so kind and loving to her, including her children. As time passed, John’s attitude changed. He became sensitive and possessive. Most of the time his possessiveness leads him to abuse Lani.

This is just one of those thousands of reported cases of VAW in the Philippines.

Violence against women is an act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, pressure or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. It encompasses all forms of violation of women’s rights, including threats and punishments, mistreatment, harassment, and other forms of control.

In the last four years, VAWC cases in Cordillera is decreasing. In 2016, Cordillera recorded 1,065 cases, 495 in 2017, 712 in 2018 and at least 76 cases were recorded in the first two months of 2019.

In the first eight months of 2018, the regional committee against trafficking, child pornography and violence against women and children in the Cordillera, recorded 712 cases of VAWC. Among the recorded cases, 424 are violence against women while 298 are violence against children.

Moreover, data shows that Baguio City topped the list with 210 cases; Benguet, 96; Ifugao, 37; Abra, 33; Kalinga, 20; Apayao, 16; and12 cases in Mountain Province.

On the other hand, the most reported abuse experienced by the victims in Mountain Province are physical, sexual, and economic violence.



According to Fe Toyokan, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer, physical violence is the intentional use of physical force. Often, reported cases includes, scratching, pushing, throwing, grabbing, biting, shaking, hair-pulling, slapping, punching, hitting and other physical activities.

Further, sexual violence is a sexual act that is committed by another person without freely given consent of the victim or against someone who is unable to refuse. The most common case is the act of lasciviousness. It is an act of making a physical contact with the body of another person for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification without intention of sexual intercourse.

Lastly, economic violence takes place when the abuser takes control and limits the access to individual assets or limits the current or future earning potential of the victim as a strategy of power and control.

Toyokan added that the reported VAW cases are decreasing yet there is a need to further advocacies to achieve a VAW free community. In response, the Municipality has implemented various interventions in attaining a VAW free community. This is to provide immediate, comprehensive support to survivors of violence that shall consist of free or low cost services such as legal, medical, psychological, and shelter; and to coordinate other forms of support services provided by Non- Government Organization (NGO).

In addition, Municipal Social Welfare and Development (MSWD) is providing the victims a proper assistance such as counselling. This is to divert the mindsets of the victims and be able to cope up with the trauma’s they are encountering. Aside from counselling, victims are referred to Municipal Police Station (MPS) and Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) for their safety. Victims are also given medical assistance to check if there are laceral’s.

Despite of the interventions and assistance given by the authorities, some of the abused women are scared to voice out their violence experiences. This is due to threats they receive from their partners.

“Yes, I am abused, but despite of my experiences I am not confident enough to voice out the abuses that I have encountered. This is because my partner incurred a lot of threats to me and to my children which causes me to remain silent. But due to some encouragement, I was forced to report”, said Lani.

Still, the MSWD encourages the victims of VAWC to seek help to their office and to the authorities. This is not just to record such cases but also to give appropriate actions.

“And now, Im FREE–Malaya na ako”, Lani stressed.

By ESJAY ZAUSA


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