Legarda Renews Call to Strengthen Awareness on Women’s Rights

December 8, 2015

In observation of the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW), Senator Loren Legarda underscored the need to strengthen public awareness and campaigns on women’s rights in order to prevent and combat all forms of gender-based violence.

“Violence against women and girls–including trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual violence–remains a serious problem in the Philippines, but many victims choose not to report these incidents due to lack of awareness about their legal rights. Abuse is not acceptable, women have legal rights and individuals can be punished for violating these rights,” Legarda stressed.

Legarda advised Filipino women that there are adequate laws for the protection of their rights and promotion of their well-being such as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Magna Carta of Women, and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

“We have diligently toiled to enact pieces of legislation to protect the rights of women and promote their welfare. The greater challenge is to effectively implement these laws and educate women on their rights. Women around the country should be aware that they are sufficiently protected under various laws,” she said.

Legarda said that even laws on climate change—such as the Climate Change Act and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act—can help protect women, especially since human traffickers have the tendency to look for potential victims among survivors of disasters.

“Violence against women and girls can escalate in the aftermath of disasters. Reported cases of rape, for instance, increase following disasters and emergency situations. Power outages, which usually follow major storms, give rise to security issues such as lack of lighted pathways and segregated toilets in evacuation centers which provide opportunities for abuse,” Legarda explained.

With this, Legarda stressed the importance of putting protection of women and girls at the center of our humanitarian response, including making our communities disaster-resilient – ensuring that each local government unit has a VAW desk as mandated in Republic Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women and providing child-friendly spaces and women-friendly spaces in evacuation camps, so as not to expose them to abusive groups and individuals.

“We must stop the climate of impunity for those who exploit our women. This can only be achieved with intensified enforcement, effective prosecution, and a proper closure to thousands of cases that should not only bring the perpetrators behind bars, but also result to the re-integration of victims back into the mainstream of society to lead normal and secure lives,” she added.

“We must always strive to give equal opportunity to women and address their concerns to allow them to develop their full potential and contribute to nation building,” Legarda concluded.

The 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women, from November 25 to December 12, is initiated by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). The theme for 2015 is “End VAW Now! It’s Our Duty! Gains and Ways Forward”.