Fact not joke: a Filipino woman or child is raped every 53 minutes - CWR

20 April 2016

Reducing the issue of rape to ridicule is alarming because the reality shows that every 53 minutes, a woman or child is raped. Everybody cringes with such information. Every woman or girl feels unsafe. And the question is: what is the government doing about it?, asked Jojo Guan, executive director of the Center for Women's Resources (CWR), a research and training institution established in 1982.

Based on CWR's research, the number of recorded rape cases during the Aquino administration increased by 92% from 5,132 in 2010 to 9,875 in 2014, meaning a woman or child was raped every 53 minutes. Seven in 10 victims of violence were children. Violations of the Republic Act (RA) 9262 or Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act escalated by 200% from 2010 to 2014.

Despite the alarming number, victims could hardly find solace with the absence of support, aggravated by the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators. Government records showed that of the 9,445 rape cases reported, only 59% were filed in court. Victims were usually discouraged in pursuing their cases because of the expensive litigation and the slow judicial process especially that most of them belong to the lowest wealth quintile.

Guan reminded that Mayor Duterte's joke was not the first in trivializing the issue of rape. A tshirt stating rape is a snuggle with a struggle was sold in the boys department in the biggest retail store in the country. A famous TV personality also used rape as a joke in one of his concerts.

Guan added, what is more despicable is the patronizing attitude of the Aquino government in dealing with the issue of VAW (violence against women). It enjoys the international accolades of being one of the most gender-sensitive countries in the world but it hardly lifts a finger in solving violence against women and children.

According to Guan, persistent poverty and crisis resulting from the implementation of anti-women, anti-poor neoliberal policies of President Aquino aggravated the condition of women and children, leaving them more vulnerable to abuse. Based from 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey, women from low wealth quintile are more vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse than women from high wealth quintile. Their indigent condition made them more vulnerable to abuses and sexual exploitation.

A culture of impunity also prevailed especially in the crimes committed by state authorities. Data from the human rights group Karapatan showed that from June 2010 to November 2015, there were 10 reported cases of military rape. The usual victims were children and indigenous women. Some of these cases involved a 21-year-old woman in Aroroy, Masbate (2010), the case of two teenage girls from Mankayan, Benguet (2012), and the case of a young Lumad from Talaingod, Davao (2015). Not a single soldier was charged and penalized for these brutal acts.

Guan also added that the return of US military servicemen through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) has resulted to more exploitation of women. In the Walking Street in Fields Avenue, Angeles City, Pampanga, at least 15,000 women work as waitresses, dancers, and entertainers. They are paid Php170.00 per night with some incentives. Most of the women who work in the establishments came from Visayas and Mindanao. Based on the initial interviews of CWR, American soldiers are the main customers especially during Balikatan exercises. Bars even offer military appreciation discount for US military customers.

The proliferation of violence is caused by an existing culture that promotes exploitation and subjugation of women especially in the lowest echelon of society. It is a culture where the powerful dominates the powerless. Such domination is translated in the treatment of women, especially those who belong to the marginalized sector, Guan explained. ###

For reference, contact: Cham Perez, (02)4112796, (0915)6531122