I. Introduction: A History of Violence
Before Republic Act 9262 was enacted in 2004, there were already laws in the Philippines that aims to protect women and children but none were as extensive as Anti-VAWC. There was the Republic Act 7877 or the Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, the R.A 8353 or the Rape law, and so on yet these laws proved to be inadequate to properly protect women.
How are women treated before the R.A 9262?
☼The laws only protect women against rape and sexual harassment but not against any other forms of abuse such as physical, mental, psychological and economic abuses.
☼ Physical violence against women are common before the law was enacted. Although these violence still exist until now, it is no longer as worst as before.
☼ Before, it is considered natural for husbands to force their wives to have sex with them.
☼The previous laws are not clear on abuses against women. Before R.A9262, a lot of women are not aware that what is being done to them can already be considered abuse.
☼Considered as the lesser sex or the secondary sex, women are discriminated in the society. There are some who are not allowed to work outside the home, or even advance in a certain field because of their gender.
II. Republic Act 9262- Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2003
What is R.A 9262?
“An Act defining Violence Against Women and their Children, proving for protective measures for victims, providing penalties therefore, and for other purposes.”
>>A law enacted by Senate in 2004.
Aims of the Law:
>>address violence committed against women and children
Definition of Violence against Women:
“Any act of gender based violence that results in, or is likely to result in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.” (Art1, UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 1993)
Categories of Violence Against Women
a. Physical Abuse (all kinds of physical violence that could harm the victim)
b. Psychological/ Emotional Abuse (including but not limited to humiliation, isolation, abandonment, threats)
c. Sexual Abuse (including rape [incest, marital, statutory], forced pregnancy, molestation, prostitution, pornography
d. Economic Abuse (including but not limited to deprivation, control or misappropriation of resources)
As defined by the law
>>Physical Violence- refers to acts that include bodily or physical harm.
>>Sexual Violence- refers to an act which is sexual in nature, committed against a woman or her child. It includes but not limited to:
a. Rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, treating a woman or her child as a sex object, making demeaning and sexually suggestive remarks, physically attacking the sexual parts of the victim’s body, forcing her/him to watch obscene publications and indecent shows or forcing the woman or her child to do indecent acts and/or make films thereof, forcing the wife and mistress/lover to live in the conjugal home or sleep together in the same room with the abuser;
b. acts causing or attempting to cause the victim to engage in any sexual activity by force, threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm or coercion;
c. Prostituting the woman or child.
>>Psychological Violence- refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not limited to intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse and mental infidelity. It includes causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a member of the family to which the victim belongs, or to witness pornography in any form or to witness abusive injury to pets or to unlawful or unwanted deprivation of the right to custody and/or visitation of common children.
>>Economic Abuse- refers to acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent which includes, but is not limited to the following:
- withdrawal of financial support or preventing the victim from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity, except in cases wherein the other spouse/partner objects on valid, serious and moral grounds as defined in Article 73 of the Family Code;
- deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial resources and the right to the use and enjoyment of the conjugal, community or property owned in common;
- destroying household property;
- controlling the victims’ own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.
>> "Battery" refers to an act of inflicting physical harm upon the woman or her child resulting to the physical and psychological or emotional distress.
>>"Battered Woman Syndrome" refers to a scientifically defined pattern of psychological and behavioral symptoms found in women living in battering relationships as a result of cumulative abuse.
>>"Stalking" refers to an intentional act committed by a person who, knowingly and without lawful justification follows the woman or her child or places the woman or her child under surveillance directly or indirectly or a combination thereof.
>>"Dating relationship" refers to a situation wherein the parties live as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.
>> "Sexual relations" refers to a single sexual act which may or may not result in the bearing of a common child.
>>"Safe place or shelter" refers to any home or institution maintained or managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or by any other agency or voluntary organization accredited by the DSWD for the purposes of this Act or any other suitable place the resident of which is willing temporarily to receive the victim.
>>"Children" refers to those below eighteen (18) years of age or older but are incapable of taking care of themselves as defined under Republic Act No. 7610. As used in this Act, it includes the biological children of the victim and other children under her care
When is it considered an act of Violence Against Women and Children?
As provided by the law, the crime of VAWC is committed through any of the following acts:
- Causing physical harm to the woman or her child;
- Threatening to cause the woman or her child physical harm;
- Attempting to cause the woman or her child physical harm;
- Placing the woman or her child in fear of imminent physical harm;
- Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or her child to engage in conduct which the woman or her child has the right to desist from or desist from conduct which the woman or her child has the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or restricting the woman’s or her child’s freedom of movement or conduct by force or threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm, or intimidation directed against the woman or child. This shall include, but not limited to, the following acts committed with the purpose or effect of controlling or restricting the woman’s or her child’s movement or conduct:
- Threatening to deprive or actually depriving the woman or her child of custody to her/his family;
- Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support legally due her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman’s children insufficient financial support;
- Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her child of a legal right;
- Preventing the woman in engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity or controlling the victim’s own mon4ey or properties, or solely controlling the conjugal or common money, or properties;
- Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on oneself for the purpose of controlling her actions or decisions;
- Causing or attempting to cause the woman or her child to engage in any sexual activity which does not constitute rape, by force or threat of force, physical harm, or through intimidation directed against the woman or her child or her/his immediate family;
- Engaging in purposeful, knowing, or reckless conduct, personally or through another that alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to the woman or her child. This shall include, but not be limited to, the following acts:
- Stalking or following the woman or her child in public or private places;
- Peering in the window or lingering outside the residence of the woman or her child;
- Entering or remaining in the dwelling or on the property of the woman or her child against her/his will;
- Destroying the property and personal belongingness or inflicting harm to animals or pets of the woman or her child; and
- Engaging in any form of harassment or violence;
- Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support or custody of minor children of access to the woman’s child/children
VAW in the society
a. Systematically subordinates and controls women by keeping them in situations of fear and insecurity.
b. Maintains the system of male dominance that is patriarchy.
Consequences of VAW on Mental and Emotional Health
>>Fear, anxiety, and nervousness
>>Loss of self esteem, shame, guilt, lack of confidence
>>Anger, hostility, distrust
>>Suicidal thoughts and attempts
>>Eating disorders, loss of appetite
>>Lack of concentration, short memory span
>>Denial, minimizing the experience
>>Fear of intimacy, attachment
Economic Consequences of VAW
VAW affects the victim not only psychologically and emotionally.
aa. Government expenditures for prevention and monitoring of VAW, police and justice system handling cases, medical treatment of VAW cases
ab. Victim/Survivor medical and counseling expenses
ac. Expenses for legal action
ad. Income loss of victim due to absence from work
ae. Productivity loss to community or general economy
III. The Benefits of R.A 9262
The creation of R.A 9262 has changed a lot of things in the society. Though it is true that violence against women still occur, these occurrences are lower compared to pre-VAWC days.
VAWC has provided:
☼Protection to women and children against all kinds of abuses including discrimination
☼ It also protected married women against domestic violence and marital rape
☼ Clearer and more extensive law against gender violence
☼Gave women more freedom and independence in terms of career, education and so on.
☼Created a more gender sensitive society
GWAVE resource materials
R.A 9262- Anti Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004 (http://www.ops.gov.ph/records/ra_no9262.htm)