Ikaw, ano ang panawagan mo?

“Panoorin ang mga nangyari noong Purple Action Day! Nakiisa ang Commission on Human Rights sa mga iba’t ibang women’s organization sa kick-off ng International Women’s Month noong 04 March 2019 sa CHR Central Office sa Quezon City.

Nanawagan ang mga grupo na ipaglaban ang boto para sa karapatang pantao sa dadating na halalan. Ilan sa mga organisasyong nakilahok ay ang Sarilaya, PKKK Youth, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau – WLB, Pakisama Women, at marami pang iba.

#WomenMakeChange #WomensMonth”

Paraluman ng Lipunan

Mga ina at ate. Sina lola at tita. Isama pa ang mga ma’am na manggagawa.

Ano pa man ang tawag, tandaan na ikaw ay isang babaeng malaya! Saludo kami sa lahat ng paraluman ng lipunan!

#MalayangBabae #InternationalWomens

HR101: Ano ang Misogyny?

Ang misogyny ay lumalabas sa mga salita at gawa.

#InternationalWomensDay #WomenMakeChange

Making Women’s Voices Heard: CHRP Inquiry on Reproductive Health

For women’s month, the Commission is pleased to share short AVPs of past programs and activities. This one is on the Reproductive Health Inquiry funded by UNFPA and conducted in 2016 with follow up process in 2018.


The GVB Observatory Video

The Gender-Based Violence Observatory Project                       

An Overview of Findings

The CHR is the country’s Gender and Development Ombud, as designated by the Magna Carta of Women of 2009 (Republic Act 9710). As such, it functions to –

…advocate for the promotion and protection of women’s human rights, strengthen its Human Rights Education program, investigate violations including those committed by private institutions or by private individuals, monitor compliance, and recommend appropriate measures to the CSC [Civil Service Commission] or to the concerned department of the government for its effective implementation. (Section 40)

Specifically, the CHR is tasked to monitor compliance to the provisions of the Magna Carta of Women on gender equality, and develop indicators to guide such; establish guidelines and mechanisms to facilitate women’s access to legal remedies against GBV; assist in the filing of GBV cases; and submit regular reports to Congress assessing the compliance of government agencies to the Magna Carta of Women and their recommendations (Section 40.A).

The establishment of a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Observatory is a step for CHR to fulfil its Gender Ombud functions. In general, Observatories work as resource centers or platforms for building knowledge on certain thematic concerns, which in turn provide more solid foundations for monitoring, research and advocacy, planning, policy and program development, and even service delivery.

In countries where a Gender or Women’s Human Rights Observatory has been established, the mechanism supported and facilitated actions mainstreaming gender equality. This is done by providing references and knowledge products that can aid in the monitoring the status of gender equality as well as in developing policies and programs to strengthen the environment for women’s human rights. Some of the data collected and published by Gender Observatories are gender statistics from local to national levels and on various themes, information on the country’s compliance to national and international standards on women’s human rights, specialized studies and researches on gender issues, gender equality frameworks and analytical tools, and innovative approaches and strategies to promote women’s rights, among others.

Gender-Based Violence Documentation and Research

The [Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women] in article 1 defines discrimination against women. The definition of discrimination includes gender-based violence, that is, violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty. Gender-based violence may breach specific provisions of the Convention, regardless of whether those provisions expressly mention violence. (General Recommendation No. 19, CEDAW).

Documentation plays a critical role addressing gender-based discrimination (GBV). Its function goes beyond recording the various forms of violations that women face on the basis of their sex, but it is also a source of knowledge that can be utilized to critique and broaden the current discourse on women’s human rights and gender equality. Literature is replete with examples of this role of documentation and research in the women’s human rights movement: through conscientious documentation and research, it is now recognized that violence against women is a systemic form of oppression against a group, embedded in social, political and cultural institutions. Documentation and research has also challenged the prevailing idea that abuse of women is only physical; even more devastating in the long run are the economic and psychological violence that cripples women’s self-worth and dignity as human beings. These concepts – that gender-based violence exists, it is perpetuated by institutions in society, and that it is more than physical abuse – are now reflected in international and Philippine laws and inform State actions to protect and promote gender equality.

However, many more needs to be done for GBV and women’s human rights documentation and research. The concept of women/femininity being the singular “Other” in relation to men/masculinity has been taken over by the idea of diversity and intersectionality: women are not a homogenous group, and even a singular woman is a constellation of identities that collectively construct who she is, her current capabilities and the power she has within a specific contexts. For documentation and research, this means that what is being said is just as important as what is being unsaid. Relevant questions in this regard include what information about GBV is currently being collected and monitored, and which ones are not? with which groups of women? which information can be accessed and utilized, and how are they being utilized? How are these information utilized from the individual level (e.g. facilitate direct service delivery to GBV survivors ) to the institutional level (monitoring, development planning, advocacy).

In June 2018, the CHR-GEWHRC started a mapping project of the current GBV referral and documentation systems in five areas, purposively selected to highlight specific contexts: a highly urbanized city (Marikina City), a provincial capital city (Batangas City), multi-cultural areas (Zamboanga City and Koronadal City in South Cotabato) and disaster areas (Guian, Eastern Samar and Zamboanga City). In addition to this, a mapping of literature on women’s human rights in the Philippines from the past five years (2013-2018) was also conducted towards providing an initial grasp of the discourse on women’s human rights and GBV as intersecting with other identities: rural women, indigenous women, migrant women, Muslim women, among others.

The results of the study contributed to the development of a framework to guide the establishment of a CHR GBV Observatory. The data was gathered through interviews and focus group discussions with direct service providers in GBV cases, and review of related secondary data.

Thematic Results of the Study

The data gathering surfaced the following themes:

1. Gender-based violence is an evolving concept, along with women’s human rights and gender equality. The law is only one way to define what counts as GBV and which violations merit redress from formal legal systems and in what form. But the law as written and interpreted in jurisprudence has a social, political context which will influence how it is interpreted when applied to specific cases, and how it will be appreciated even by the very women whose rights it seeks to protect and promote. It is also relevant to reflect on women’s ideas of justice and her participation in defining this: not all women see pursuing a legal case against their partners as the solution; many women just want the violence to stop.

This may also explain why community-based processes such as mediation at the barangay or by the community elders, which are discouraged for GBV cases under the law, are still accessed by women. Practices of barangay mediation in a general sense are still present in all research areas. In Zamboanga City and Koronadal City, indigenous and Muslim women can also opt to bring the GBV complaint to the council of elders. Particularly in cases involving Muslim women, community peace also weighs in the discussion of what is just in VAWC.

2. GBV documentation is initiated when the women engages the formal systems of redress or access services needed. This highlights another function of documentation: not only does it records the experience of GBV but prior to this, it also officializes the women’s entry to the social service and legal systems. Documentation is integral to the process of service delivery and is a requrement for accountability. By agreeing to have her experience documented, the woman is able to avail of interventions offered by the State, from the issuance of barangay protection orders, getting material assistance and psychosocial services, to receiving legal aid. Each service provider have their own intake system and forms, although documentation sharing is not uncommon especially when a legal case is filed. For instance, the police may ask for a copy of the barangay complaint as part of the evidence.

This is also notable in the context of GBV statistics which has been described as presenting only of documented cases. What is excluded in official data is both the unreported cases and the reported but unrecorded ones. Common among barangay women’s desk officers in the research areas are stories of women reporting a VAWC but does not want to have her complaint documented in the barangay VAWC logbook. Also notable, the barangay VAWC desk officers also do not see their intereaction with these women as official work as well, even if during their “pag-uusap” or “conversation” she gave information on women’s human rights, the Anti-VAWC law and options for the women to consider.

Another category of reported but unrecorded cases of GBV are those brought to community mechanisms for resolution, such as in the case of IP and Muslim women. In the context of Muslims, since child marriages are acceptable in their culture, a case of child sexual abuse brought to the barangay may be recorded not as “rape” but child marriage if the perpetrator proposes marriage and is accepted by the victim-survivor’s family (Zamboanga City).

In emergency or disaster contexts, forms of GBV are uncovered and documented because of the monitoring of service providers, and not always because the woman had initiated the complaint. The support by international and national agencies, usually through capacity building of local service providers, in this regard has been important. Some of the systems, specifically referral pathways, put in place during the disaster response and recovery period were carried over in more stable times.

3. State level documentation as published is almost always focused on the “point of entry data” i.e. number of women who asked for help, and the services given. Information on the process (e.g. how long did it take for the woman to get a court protection order) and status of cases are not part of official data, although these can be sourced from documentation already done by certain institutions.

Related to this, is the one-dimensional regard of women in GBV documentation. The intersectionality of women’s identities and its impact on their experience of GBV is yet to be explored, and the availability of data on this is crucial. Only a few agencies have mainstreamed questions regarding their ethnicity, SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) and (dis)ability in standard intake forms. Instead, these information may be found in the “salaysay” or narratives of women recorded in logbooks, but it is highly subject to what the documentor thinks as relevant to the case, thus would consciously ask or include this, or to what the woman herself thinks is relevant.

4. There is extensive quantitative and qualitative data related to GBV and its context collected by various government agencies, from local to national levels. At the barangay level, VAWC logbook entries are good sources of the type of VAWC reported, and interventions done and resolutions (e.g. kasunduan, referred to the police or local social welfare and development offices). However, not all of these information are captured in the forms submitted to municipal, provincial governments, which only track the number of cases received and type of violence experienced. For VAWC, it will be grouped according to the categories of physical, sexual, psychological and economic, as set in RA 9262.

City, muncipal and provincial level data on GBV are the same, but agencies such as the LSWDO and PNP would have more information on the profile of women, as well as interventions provided. Marikina City has started on a database project on VAWC which they aim to be more attuned to the nuances of the cases, track cases by number of complaints as well as number of individuals who sought help, and case management up to after-care interventions. Ease of documentation is also another issue which the project aims to address.

At the national level, there is the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) which have consolidated reports on VAWC from communities across the country. As mentioned earlier, these reports contain the number of VAWC and rape cases recorded, and the type of violence experienced. The DILG also monitors the establishment of Anti-VAWC desks across the country and the number of established desks are also published. The PNP data is more extensive as it contains the general profile of women complainants, as well as other GBV-related crimes that are not VAWC or rape (e.g. sexual harassment, trafficking, unjust vexation). However, published PNP reports are focused on the number of cases received segregated by region.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also publishes numbers on GBV-related cases they received and provided intervention. The source of information is the local and regional social welfare centers managed by the national agency. The documentation within the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which is national anti-overty program managed by the Central Office, is another source of information. Recently, the Pantawid program piloted focus group discussions on GBV issues with their beneficiaries from which quantitative and qualitative data can be culled.

The Philippine Statistics Authority publishes statistical data on women and men / gender. This publication features gender-disaggregated quantitative data gathered from different agencies. 

5. Utilization of data in the form of researches, annual gender reports and similar publications is limited among direct service delivery agencies, whether government or non-government.

Publication and research remains a challenge for national agencies. While the data is available it has been mostly used internally i.e., to inform planning and identifying policy advocacy agenda. They do, however, make the data available to the public to be used by researchers. Websites of national agencies are access points to GBV-related information. Researchers can also write to local and national agencies to request for data, and these are provided but considering the limits specified by the Freedom of Information (Executive Order No. 2 s.2016), the Data Privacy Law (RA 10173 of 2012) and similar policies and ethical considerations (principle of confidentiality in GBV cases). The DSWD also released Administrative Order No. 11 s. 2011 which details their protocol on the conduct of studies in DSWD centers, institutions and offices. Agencies such as the Philippine Commission on Women also publish reports from time to time.

The GBV Observatory project also mapped out researches and reports available online that are related to women’s human rights in the Philippine context. Apart from the inclusive period (the past five years, or 2013 to 2018), and search words (“gender based violence” and “women’s human’s rights”), the mapping also limited itself to works by Filipino authors and on focus areas mentioned in the Magna Carta of Women.

The findings to date show the following:

  • From 2013-2018, there are 159 studies and reports that used women’s human rights and gender-based violence as key concepts.

  • In terms of publication type, most of these are articles published in local and international journals (73), situational analyses or reports (43), and MA or PhD theses (27).

  • Focus areas of these studies are varied, as shown in the table below. Notable is the dearth of women’s human rights and publications in the context of HIV/AIDS, disabilities, climate change, and mental health (excluding reproductive and sexual health issues). 

The GBV Observatory: Challenges and Potentials

Gender-based violence is not a new issue. Yet it is still persistent feature in the lives of women, whether in actuality or a possible reality as women navigate through and negotiate with social norms which, for instance, hold them responsible for intimate partner violence and sexual abuse. The GBV Observatory project aimed to refresh the issue by looking at it from another angle: information, documentation and research. In doing so, it surfaced the following insights:

1. Documentation as point to service access.

2. Statistics on the number of GBV cases in the country reflects only reported and recorded cases; there are reported GBV cases which are not recorded through mainstream systems.

3. Published data on GBV has focused on quantitative information, but there are qualitative data also being documented especially at the local level.

4. Utilization of the data from various agencies in the form of researches and publications is limited; making data available to a wider audience is also a gap.

The GBV Observatory can play an important role in setting up a platform to collate all information and data available from different agencies doing work on violence against women and gender-based violence in general. Its scope could be as broad as presenting the international and national instruments relevant to addressing barriers to women’s empowement to featuring tools and good practices that human rights advocates can use as a platform to strengthen their gains and push further towards gender equality and social inclusivity.

The framework below is a result of the study. Recalling that most data and information are collected from point of entry into the formal (mainstream) legal process (such as filing a complaint, lodging a case and upon access of service) – prompts asking direct service providers and agencies:

  • How sensitive is the existing mechanisms and support systems to the intersectionality of women’s identities and contexts when they document their experience of gender-based violence? how is this mirrored in the services open to and provided to diverse groups of women?

  • How is the end point of case management conceptualized, and consequently, documented?

  • How can the process of women’s empowerment be documented, recognizing that legal victory may not be the endpoint for many women?

The focus is on documentation; the next, and ideally, the inveitable step is to harness the data gathered in the process of service delivery to use for strategic ends: education and training, gender mainstreaming, and promotion of gender and cultural sensitivity and social inclusion as institutional values. Making available the data to a wider audience can facilitate this. It can also strengthen critical thinking about women’s human rights and current actions to fulfill this. As noted by the study, the dominance of law-based instruments in human rights discourse, and legal justice as the main vehicle for justice in the context of gender-based violence, can be disempowering when service providers trivialize other ways women resolve their situation, for instance, getting BPOs multiple times without filing a case or seeking mediation from community leaders.

This puts forward the framework of women’s human rights as an evolving concept, and one that is a result of the interplay of the what the law says, how the law is implemented, and the law’s socio-cultural context (Schuler, 1998). Much have been written about gender-based violence using this framework, whether this is explicitly acknowledged or implicit in the structure of the researches. The laws themselves are a product of this interplay as stakeholders engage each other to find common ground amidst the myriad of social and cultural meanings attached to specific forms of gender-based violence. However, as the ideas of diversity and intersectionality teach, the process of consensus making may not be so straight forward. There are missing voices. There are voices which are buried under those which are louder. Of particular note here are the voices of IP and Muslim women whose cultural practices the law on VAWC, for instance, seem to have overlooked. 

The bigger picture of these discussions are the goals of protecting and fulfilling of women’s human rights, and increasing women’s access to justice – and the present gaps, emerging challenges and potential sources of support for continuing advocacy. An Observatory can function as a magnifying glass on areas of concern on gender-based violence, and in the process, offer new and critical ways of thinking about an “old” issue.