How to Report Violence Against Women Abuse in the Philippines

Violence against women (VAW) in the Philippines refers to any harmful behavior directed at women based on their gender such as acts of physical, sexual, psychological, and financial mistreatment. Factors contributing to VAW in the Philippines include deeply rooted cultural beliefs that uphold male dominance and control over women, as well as socioeconomic inequalities.

Also Read: Why We Need More Women-Friendly Spaces (WFS)

Efforts to address VAW in the Philippines involve a combination of legal frameworks, government initiatives, and grassroots movements. The Philippines has laws specifically aimed at protecting women from violence, such as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act (VAWC) (RA 9262), which provides legal remedies and support services for victims. Government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and community-based organizations work together to raise awareness, provide support services, and advocate for policy reforms to combat VAW. Despite these efforts, challenges such as underreporting, impunity for perpetrators, and limited resources for victim support persist.

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Types of violence against women

Violence against women (VAW) manifests in various forms, each posing significant harm to women’s physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. The types of violence against women commonly include:

  1. Physical Violence

This involves the use of force to inflict bodily harm on women, such as hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, or using weapons to cause injuries. Physical violence often leaves visible marks or bruises and can result in severe injuries or even death.

  1. Sexual Violence

Sexual violence encompasses a range of abusive behaviors, including rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and trafficking for sexual exploitation. Women may be coerced or forced into unwanted sexual activities against their will, leading to traumatic experiences and long-term psychological effects.

  1. Emotional or Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse involves behaviors that undermine a woman’s self-esteem, manipulate her emotions, or exert control over her through intimidation, threats, or constant criticism. This form of abuse can leave lasting psychological scars and damage a woman’s sense of worth and autonomy.

  1. Economic Abuse

Economic abuse occurs when women are denied access to financial resources or are controlled financially by their partners or family members. This can include withholding money, preventing women from working or accessing education, and controlling their spending, trapping them in situations of dependence and vulnerability.

  1. Cyber Violence

With the rise of digital technology, cyber violence against women has become increasingly prevalent. This includes online harassment, cyberstalking, non-consensual sharing of intimate images (revenge porn), and other forms of digital abuse that can have profound negative impacts on women’s safety and mental health.

These types of violence against women are often interconnected and may occur within the same abusive relationship. For instance, a woman experiencing physical violence may also be subjected to emotional manipulation or economic control by her abuser. Hence, reporting instances of violence against women is crucial in such situations.

Reporting VAW Incidents

A. Immediate Actions to Take

Reporting incidents of violence against women (VAW) requires immediate and decisive actions to ensure the safety and well-being of the victim. Here are two crucial steps to take:

  1. Ensuring the Safety of the Victim

The priority when a VAW incident occurs is to ensure the safety of the victim. This may involve separating the victim from the perpetrator and finding a safe location where they are out of harm’s way. If necessary, bystanders or witnesses should intervene to protect the victim from further harm. Ensuring the victim’s safety also entails providing emotional support and reassurance, as they may be in a state of shock or distress.

  1. Seeking Medical Attention If Necessary

Depending on the nature and severity of the violence, seeking medical attention for the victim may be necessary. This is particularly important in cases of physical violence where the victim has sustained injuries. Medical professionals can assess and treat any injuries, document evidence of abuse, and provide necessary medical care and support. Seeking medical attention promptly not only addresses the victim’s physical needs but also creates a record of the incident, which can be valuable if the victim decides to pursue legal action or seek further assistance.

B. Reporting Options

After ensuring the safety of the victim and seeking medical attention, if necessary, the next step is to report the incident of violence against women (VAW) to the appropriate authorities or organizations.

1. Reporting to Law Enforcement

  1. Police stations

Victims can report VAW incidents directly to their local police station. Law enforcement officers are trained to handle cases of violence and can initiate investigations into the matter.

  1. Women and Children’s Protection Desk (WCPD)

Many police stations have dedicated desks specifically for handling cases of violence against women and children. These desks are staffed with officers trained to handle such cases sensitively and effectively.

2. Reporting to Government Agencies

  1. Philippine Commission on Women (PCW)

The PCW is a government agency tasked with promoting and protecting the rights of women in the Philippines. Victims can report VAW incidents to the PCW for assistance and support.

  1. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)

The DSWD provides various support services for victims of violence, including counseling, shelter, and legal assistance. Victims can seek help from DSWD offices in their locality.

3. Reporting to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

  1. Gabriela Women’s Party

Gabriela is a women’s rights organization in the Philippines that advocates for gender equality and addresses issues of violence against women. Victims can reach out to Gabriela for support, advocacy, and assistance.

  1. Women’s Crisis Center (WCC)

WCCs are non-governmental organizations that provide crisis intervention, counseling, and shelter services for women experiencing violence. Victims can contact WCCs for immediate assistance and support.

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Steps to Report VAW Incidents

Step 1: Documenting the Incident

  1. Gathering Evidence

Collect any available evidence related to the incident, such as photographs of injuries, written descriptions of what happened, and any relevant documents or messages. However, approach the victim with empathy and understanding, acknowledging the difficulty of revisiting traumatic experiences. Encourage them to share only what they feel comfortable disclosing and assure them that their feelings and decisions are respected.

  1. Keeping Records of Incidents

Maintain a detailed record of each incident, including dates, times, locations, and descriptions of the violence. Keep any documentation, such as medical records or police reports, in a safe and accessible place. However, respect the victim’s privacy and autonomy throughout the documentation process. Ensure that any evidence collected or records kept are handled confidentially and with sensitivity to the victim’s wishes.

Step 2: Contacting Relevant Authorities or Organizations

  1. Providing Necessary Information

Provide the victim with information about reporting options and support services available, but allow them the space and time to make their own decisions. Respect their autonomy in choosing whether or not to proceed with reporting and offer support regardless of their decision.

Then, reach out to the appropriate authorities or organizations to report the VAW incident. Provide as much detail as possible about the incident, including the identities of the perpetrator(s) and any witnesses, as well as any evidence gathered.

  1. Seeking Support and Guidance

Offer emotional support and validation to the victim, recognizing the courage it takes to come forward and seek help. Remind them that they are not alone and that support is available throughout the reporting process.

Seek support and guidance from professionals or organizations experienced in handling VAW cases. They can provide assistance in navigating the reporting process, offer emotional support, and connect victims with resources and services.

Step 3: Following Up on the Report

  1. Tracking Progress of Investigation

Stay informed about the progress of the investigation into the reported incident. Follow up with the relevant authorities or organizations regularly to ensure that the case is being addressed and that appropriate actions are being taken.

While doing so, empower the victim to take an active role in the reporting process, while also respecting their boundaries and preferences. Offer to accompany them to meetings with authorities or support services if desired, but allow them to lead the way in their journey to seek justice and healing.

  1. Seeking Assistance If Needed

If the victim encounters any challenges or obstacles during the reporting process, seek assistance from support services or advocacy organizations. They can provide additional support and guidance to help address any issues that may arise.

Following the procedures provided is easy. However, this is a huge burden or step to take from the victim’s point of view and experience. Uncovering and reliving the experience is a struggle and pain for the victim. Hence, by centering the victim’s decision-making and feelings throughout the reporting process, we can ensure that their dignity, autonomy, and well-being are upheld. It’s essential to provide a supportive and empowering environment that allows victims to navigate their path toward healing and justice at their own pace.

VAWC Helpline Numbers/Offices

By Region: Click the link – https://pcw.gov.ph/violence-against-women-helplines/ to access and get redirected to the official website of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and know which helpline office is near you.

Hotline Numbers/Offices: You may also go to the FAQs section of PCW at https://pcw.gov.ph/faq-republic-act-9262/ for more info.

Video: VAWC: Anti-Violence against Women & their Children Law-Part 1 | Abuso sa Kababaihan

This video provides an overview of RA 9262, also known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act, which is a crucial piece of legislation aimed at protecting women and children from various forms of violence. It outlines the rights of victims and the responsibilities of law enforcement agencies, service providers, and the community in addressing violence against women and their children. The video also delves into the importance of understanding the provisions of RA 9262, raising awareness about women’s rights, and promoting a culture of respect and equality to prevent violence and support victims.