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Sunday, November 25, 2012

18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW)

A UNFPA study in 2009 on internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Mindanao revealed the increasing
number of forced early marriages and pregnancies. There were also cases of early marriages to get
additional food rations for the family. Most women say they got pregnant because their husbands prevent
them from using family planning methods that is not allowed in Islam. Several cases of economic and
verbal abuse as well as wife battering were also reported.
In order to address the issues of women in armed conflict, the United Nations Security Council issued
Resolutions 1325 and 1820. UNSCR 1325 focused on two key points: (1) ensuring the equal participation of women in the peace process to ensure that a gender perspective is mainstreamed in all peacekeeping
operations and (2) reaffirms the duties of the state to ensure that there are laws protecting women and
girls during armed conflict situations. UNSCR 1820 on the other hand condemns VAWC during armed
conflict situations with a special focus on sexual violence.
Similarly, when there is a disaster such as typhoon or flood, the open living conditions in evacuation
centers also put women and their children at risk of violence or abuses because human relations are more
exposed. Their special needs such as safety, privacy, and other gender sensitive concerns are not given
enough consideration. Increased incidents of sexual violence and domestic abuse are evident due to stress
and breakdown of community norms and protection. The Guidelines on GBV Interventions in
Humanitarian Settings cited the increase of VAW when Mt. Pinatubo erupted. The desperate conditions
may even force women and young girls to exchange sex for food, shelter, protection or for money.
A book released by Oxfam in 2011 entitled “Transformations: Women’s Stories of Resilience and Challenges in the Time of Ondoy” presents real life stories of women who survived the devastation brought by typhoon Ondoy. It recognizes the need of vulnerable groups, such as women and girls, to be included in disaster risk reduction strategies and programs.

Section 9 and 10 of the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) provides for the protection of women children
and other vulnerable sectors against violence in conflict-affected areas and during disasters, calamities and
other crisis situations. Likewise, Section 2 (j) of RA 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and
Management Act of 2010 is clear that the state shall “ensure that disaster risk reduction and climate
change measures are gender responsive, sensitive to indigenous knowledge systems, and respectful of
human rights”.
However, as with other cases of GBV, the prevalence of GBV during crisis situations in the country is still
difficult to account. Detection and identification is a challenge especially during emergency situations.
Another factor is cultural and personal beliefs wherein survivors would prefer to suffer in silence than
report the incident to the appropriate authorities.
Protection and upholding of human rights fail during armed conflict and disasters because the immediate
concern is to save lives, then meeting the basic needs. Despite appeals to pay attention to gender issues, it
has not been being fully addressed. It is for this reason that this year’s campaign is proposed to revolve
around this topic to inform the public and major stakeholders of the prevalence of GBV during crisis


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