Republic Act No 9262 of 2004 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act provides protection for abused women and their children against their partners, former male partners or those they were/are dating. Although this is a welcome change, its implementation and impact have not been very extensive especially, for the very women who should be benefitting from it.
Through funds coming from the European Union’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), ASSIST partnered with the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) and the National Network of Family Violence Prevention Programs (NNFVPP) for a project entitled “USE RA 9262 – Undertaking Survivors’ Experience in Accessing RA 9262.” The project aimed to establish a monitoring system on RA 9262 anchored on women’s experiences and on the enhanced capabilities of non-government organizations handling domestic violence, leading to the effective implementation of the law that works for female victims/survivors in reclaiming their rights.
The project was able to accomplish a number of activities during its run. Surveys and forums were conducted to raise awareness and determine the root causes of violations – an Alternative Monitoring System Portal was created and became a platform of information exchange between stakeholders & gauged the implementation rate of RA 9262. Capacity building trainings were also conducted to ensure proper use of the system and strengthen institutions. Furthermore, a gap assessment report, a training manual for service providers and a web portal were released through which region-based advocates encoded details on VAWC cases.
In 2008, the Philippines National Police (PNP) reported that there has been a 21% increase in the number of cases of Violence Against Women (VAW) from that in 2007. Although the Philippines enacted several laws against Violence Against Women, access to and full implementation of these laws leave much to be desired. In August 2009, the government passed another Act – the “Magna Carta of Women (RA9710)”, with the expectation for it to be an umbrella legal enactment to promote gender equality and ensure the protection of women. The Magna Carta calls for training on human rights and gender sensitivity for all government personnel involved and all local government units (LGUs), and to establish a violence against women (VAW) desk in every barangay to ensure that VAW cases are fully addressed in a gender-responsive manner.
ASSIST, in partnership with WFS (Women’s Feature Service Philippines), WomenLEAD (Women’s Legal Education, Advocacy & Defense Foundation Inc.) and WCC (Women’s Crisis Center) collaborated to produce the “Justice and Healing Project” with the main goal of educating & capacitating the various components of the judicial system to be able to deliver rights-based and gender sensitive services with respect to VAW cases. The activities carried out to achieve these include barangay forums, stakeholder mapping and training for public-private prosecutors, paralegal and legal practitioners on the issue at hand. Moreover, the project included the development of both Legal Monographs on Gender Legal Issues and Protocol for Legal Service Provision.
Through the sessions provided by the project, NGOs are now better equipped & united to offer legal & psycho-social assistance to female victims. They are in constant dialogue and have worked closely with the government for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Prosecutors, lawyers and other members of the judiciary are sensitized & capacitated to adopt a gender-sensitive, victim-centric, CEDAW compliant, inquiry process while local authorities, the police, and communities at barangay level are united and continuously working towards a violence-free barangay.