The previous week opened with the grim news of a man who massacred his entire family in Talisay, Cebu. The youngest daughter, apparently her father’s favorite child, was spared.
I paused after reading the harrowing account of how the 14-year-old girl had actually seen her older brother beg for his life while their father poked a gun at him. Unless she receives therapy, the girl will have to contend with deep emotional issues. It will take years of counseling and much prayer for her spirit and mind to recover.
What struck me most about this story was the seeming apathy of everyone who knew about the domestic violence in the family over the last 10 years.
According to reports, the wife, a bank manager who was due to compete in the Milo Marathon next month, had intimated to close friends at work and in church that she had endured the beatings for years, before the murder that wiped out the family.
Why did she not leave? Why didn’t anyone encourage her to go? Why was it not reported?
Domestic violence continues in many homes even long after Republic Act 9262, the Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Law, was set in place in 2004.
A 2010 Amnesty International Report, “Breaking the Silence: Seeking Justice in Intimate Partner Violence in the Philippines,” was a nationwide review conducted in 2009, with members of Women Working Together to Stop Violence against Women (WWTSVAW) on the implementation of RA 9262.
The report began: “The Anti-VAWC Law held much promise for women suffering from physical, psychological and sexual abuse from their husbands, common-law partners, boyfriends or girlfriends. However, the stories of abuse by intimate partners presented by women survivors who came to government and nongovernment facilities are grim reminders that it is one thing to have a law and another thing to diligently implement its provisions in order to protect women from violence and uphold their rights.”
Among the statistics cited was a 2007 DSWD report, which showed that physical abuse, battery and maltreatment of women continued to comprise the bulk of the problems, presented by Women in Especially Different Circumstances.
Domestic violence, which covers psychological, emotional and economic abuse, happens in various strata of society. The irony here is that perhaps there are even more unreported cases from the A and B strata. “Underreporting of cases exists since some women do not speak about the violence experienced due to several factors, such as shame and self-blame for the violence, fear of the abuser’s retaliation, limited resources to pursue justice, and inaccessible or unavailable facilities where one can report the violence, among others,” the report said.
“In cases of intimate partner violence, many women also experience being ‘filtered out’ of the legal justice system when they are pressured by village mediators to reconcile with their abusive partners.”
Domestic violence exists not only in depressed areas or far-flung places, but pervades even the upper echelons in the toniest enclaves in Metro Manila.
RA 9262 has somehow stemmed the tide. However, the Amnesty International report says that it has loopholes.
Among the recommendations of the WWTSVAW are: due diligence of all government agencies and institutions to prevent, investigate and, in accordance with RA 9262, punish acts of intimate partner violence against women and their children and provide services and reparations for the victim survivors; and develop, facilitate and enhance education programs for all sectors and the general public, including officials and staff in national government agencies and local government units, on the RA 9262, gender-based discrimination and equality of rights between men and women.
More important, the group recommends intensifying community education and information campaigns on the Anti-VAWC Law, gender-based discrimination, and equality of rights between women and men, and adopting other measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, and to eliminate prejudices, customary practices, and other practices based on the idea of inferiority and superiority of either of the sexes.
At the end of the day, education and awareness of the law are essential for every man, woman and child.
To end this on a happy note, it is always heartwarming to see corporations that encourage and help foster strong Filipino family values. One such endeavor was the recent search by Jollibee for the Outstanding Filipino Families.
From Luzon to Mindanao came entries which showed the strength, courage, wisdom and faith that continue to abound in many Filipino homes. From thousands of entries, five exemplary families were honored at the first Jollibee Family Values Awards late last month.
Adjudged as most outstanding families were Irineo and Flordeliza Depleo and family from Sta. Maria, Bulacan; Wawel, Mila and Therese Mercado from Quezon City; Edonis and Christine Francisco and family from Lucena City; Ernesto and Remedios Suplido and family from Silay City; and Rey and Marjorie Cartojano from General Santos City.
Their family stories showed that love of God and family and service to country are alive and well, but it takes a lot of hard work, patience, and unconditional love to keep the family together and alive during these challenging times.
E-mail the author at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @cathybabao