06 December 2016
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CHR calls for zero tolerance on VAW: Challenge leaders not to be perpetrators but to lead
campaign against VAW
This 25th of November, the world remembers the death of the Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic. They opposed the rule of Dictator Trujillo, and their murder spurned into action the subsequent overthrow of the Dictator. Starting 25th of November and 18 days after, the world commemorates the campaign to end violence against women. In the Philippines, this year’s celebration kicked off on the 25th with the theme “A Violence Free Community Starts with me.” It is alarming that in the same week women and girls protesting the Marcos burial were attacked and harassed on-line, it is distressing that on the same week, a congressional hearing on drug syndicates were filled with unnecessary questions meant to shame a woman senator, and it is
appalling that this weekend, the President, the highest official of the land, delivered a speech before law students admitting that he spanks police-women in their bottoms if he is ill-tempered. The Commission as Gender Ombud, in no uncertain terms condemns all forms of violence and discrimination against women through whatever means it may be committed, and regardless of the position of the victim survivor or the perpetrator. These are violations of women and girls’ human rights.
We condemn the individuals who attacked women and girls on-line for protesting the Marcos Burial. The attacks through the posting and reposting of pictures with lewd and sexually explicit comments, the comments on threads which objectify and express desire to sexually violate women and girls for expressing dissent are all forms of violence against women. This is further exacerbated by the anonymity and elusiveness of the perpetrators and the challenges posed by VAW committed on line.
We condemn the manner of questioning during congressional inquiry on the Bilibid Drug trade in so far as some of the Congressmen asked irrelevant questions meant solely to shame a lady Senator. The focus on the Senator’s private affairs and the juicy details of her personal life, the snickers elicited from the irrelevant questions should not have found its way in Congressional hearings, and yet, unmindful of ethical considerations, this line of inquiry pervaded the hearing.
And more recently, we condemn the statement of the President when he delivered a speech before law students of San Beda. We condemn his admission that he spanks policewomen in Malacanang, and that he blames them as being part of the problem. Not only is he admitting to committing sexual harassment, a form of violence against women, his admission normalizes the objectification of women and makes acceptable acts which degrade and invade women’s bodies and which diminish her autonomy over her body. As the highest official of the land, the President is supposed to lead the campaign against VAW and the State’s commitment to eliminate all forms of violence against women – not become himself a perpetrator violence. The usual excuse of humor at the expense of women’s dignity is simply unacceptable.
We have a long line of laws that protect women from violence and discrimination, we have the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710), prohibiting all forms of discrimination and we have long enacted the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law (RA 7877) prohibiting sexual harassment in the context of education, training and employment environment.
With the prevalence of violence against women in the form not only of physical and sexual violence but also on-line harassment and attacks, slut-shaming, and sexual harassment, we cannot
react to violence in isolation. We have to see that there is a continuum of violence, a culture that is growing, and one which we cannot afford to tolerate. From anonymous Facebook commenters, the harassers in the streets, the Congressmen who ask questions meant solely to shame, and even the President, when he clearly admits to committing sexual harassment in the workplace — we have to condemn, we have to break the silence, and we have to hold persons into account.
With this, the Commission as Gender Ombud calls upon everyone for ZERO tolerance for violence against women.
Let us refuse to normalize violence and discrimination.
Let us speak out against all forms and instances of VAW wherever they may occur, whatever form, and whoever the victim-survivor or perpetrator may be.
Let us equally speak out against violence committed by anonymous on-line attackers and mores so those committed by elected officials, including the Highest elected official of the land.
For our government duty bearers, the Commission calls on the President, the Congressmen – to lead the campaign against violence against women and not to be perpetrators themselves.
While the President is immune from suit, the Commission holds him to account for acts of violence, and we challenge him with the role of the State actors as set forth under CEDAW — not only to protect women from violence, but for state actors themselves not to be perpetrators of VAW;
We call on bodies tasked to address violence against women – the National Bureau of Investigation for on-line attackers; the office of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission, for erring public officials, to exact accountability where accountability is due, conduct investigation, and ensure access to justice for women victim survivors of violence.
Atty. Jacqueline Ann C. de Guia
OIC, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Office
Telephone No: (02) 528-5792 / 09175919833
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org