MANILA -- While the Philippines is recognized as one of the most gender-equal nations in the world, violence against women continues to be a pervasive problem in the country.
According to the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap report in 2017, the Philippines ranked 10th globally and once again emerged as the best performer in Asia in terms of gender equality.
The Philippines has indeed made an impressive stride to close the gap between genders, but Filipina women still fall victims to gender-based violence on a daily basis.
The Philippine Commission on Women said the unequal power relationship between women and men underpins violence against women.
In an exclusive interview, Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said violence against women remains prevalent in the country with different forms of abuse on the rise.
"While there is a slight decrease in reported rape cases from 2015 to 2016 based on the PNP (Philippine National Police) data, it is alarming that other forms of violence against women and children are on the rise," Brosas said.
Brosas expressed alarm over the rising number of crimes against women, citing statistics that cases of homicide rose by 18.18 percent, incestuous rape soared by 170 percent, and statutory rape increased by 64.26 percent.
"These figures become more pronounced with the recent rape-slay cases across the country," she added.
Among the latest incidents of rape-slay cases include bank employee Mabel Cama (22) and Glory Mary Carbonnel (19).
PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, in fact, claimed that rape-slay cases have gone up after the police were pulled out from the anti-drug campaign, describing it as a "glaring reality".
Brosas also cited a World Health Organization study revealing that the Philippines is among the countries with prevalent cases of intimate partner and non-partner violence.
"This more or less reflects our standing with other countries in terms of violence against women."
She likewise highlighted the present humanitarian crisis in Marawi City spawned by the siege wherein women and girls face a heightened risk of vulnerability to gender-based violence.
"Tens of thousands of women and children remain cramped in evacuation centers, potentially exposing them to sexual abuse and violence," she added.
Brosas, as the women's sectoral representative in the Lower House, is pushing for measures that will remedy the flaws in the existing laws on women's rights and put forward "radical shifts" on family relations.
Brosas, together with fellow Gabriela Rep. Emmi De Jesus, has filed the divorce bill (House Bill 2380) to give spouses the viable legal option to break free from abusive marital relations.
The women's party is also crafting amendments to the anti-violence against women and their children law (Republic Act 9262) by providing enabling mechanisms at the barangay level and stronger protection for the victims.
Moreover, the lady lawmaker is also proposing amendments to the anti-sexual harassment law to include peer-to-peer sexual harassment and out-of-work sexual harassment as part of the offenses.
To address the socio-economic conditions that make women more vulnerable to abuse, the group advocates for the anti-contractualization bill and the Genuine Agrarian Reform bill.
As the country marks the observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW), Brosas called on the public to take part in the #LabananAngAbuso campaign to raise awareness on the various forms of violence against women.
She also urged the public to join the calls of Lumad groups in their protest against attacks on their schools.
Other IDEVAW-related activities will also be held including an exhibit highlighting women's strength and resistance amid violence on Nov. 27, and a review of the Anti-VAWC Law on at the House of Representatives on Nov. 29.
The Philippines commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women through an 18-day campaign to end violence against women. This campaign will focus on prevention and awareness to reduce incidents of violence against women in the country. The 18-day campaign is slated Nov. 25-Dec. 12.
Source: Philippine News Agency