Women activists in Baguio, with students and employees of UP-Baguio danced in protest last February 14, 2018 at the University of the Philippines parking lot during the 6th year of the commemoration of “One Billion Rising” (OBR) – a campaign uniting women the world over expressing their outrage over and demanding an end to Violence Against Women (VAW). Women in other parts of the country and around the globe, many in school campuses also took part in this yearly undertaking.
The global campaign was initiated by women activists Eve Ensler and Monique Wilson in 2012, with the latter as the director for the dance performances. The drive against VAW also known as V. Day was launched to address the alarming statistics presented by the UN during that year estimating that one in three women and girls around the world experience either physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime.
February 14, Valentine’s Day, a day designated to spread LOVE is an appropriate date to call for an end to VAW as we believe that one can only realize the true essence of LOVE in relationships where there is absence of abuse and violence coming in their many forms. It must be understood that VAW is not only physical, but can also be emotional/psychological or even economic. Emotional and verbal abuse in fact could have an even more long lasting impact on the victims.
But let us also bear in mind that VAW does not only happen in the context of intimate relationships. We find a more vicious form of VAW perpetuated by the state and its institutions. Presently, VAW is being perpetuated by no less than the head of Philippine state, President Rodrigo Duterte, who together with his cohorts shamelessly do not hide their machismo and even flaunt their misogyny in words and deeds. We are reminded about his revolting statements on rape during the Marawi siege and his more recent pronouncements ordering government soldiers to shoot at the vaginas of female members of the NPA for he says they are useless without them. His despicable statements which he uttered not only on one occasion but on several others outrageously elicited laughter among his colleagues and applause from his audience. Deplorably, these uncalled for remarks coming from a person of his stature will only reinforce the culture of impunity by state security forces and the military institution which use sexual abuse as a tool of war to neutralize so called “enemies of the state”. This could result to the further proliferation of sexual abuses against women in areas where the military troops are deployed.
Today there is looming tyranny in our midst, even without the formal declaration of Martial Law nationwide. Besides the war on drugs which has to date already slain 13,000 individuals (according to the statistics by the Commission on Human Rights) mostly poor, without undergoing trial; political persecution and extra judicial killings are being suffered by known critics of the Duterte administration and those going against his policies. We need not go far. In the Cordillera, five (5) women human rights defenders (WHRDs) belonging to various cause-oriented NGO’s, mostly graduates of UP Baguio are facing fabricated murder charges by Philippine state security forces. These women are known defenders of human rights and are committed in the work for the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) in marginalized communities in the Cordillera and in Northern Luzon. As mothers, daughters and spouses, these WHRDs suffer from anguish because of threats to their security and lives which in turn has affected their work and families. The undue pressures brought about by the vilifications even resulted to one of the defenders prematurely giving birth and caused the hospitalization of another. The dirty tactics by the Duterte government has commenced long before his recent pronouncements of further opening up the lands and resources of indigenous peoples for exploitation by foreign companies. We fear that this scheme will escalate and worsen the human rights situation in our country and the plunder of our natural resources.
On this day, we then call on women as well as men supporting women’s causes in the City of Baguio to be part of the campaign in putting a stop to the abuses that women experience, and ending the multiple layers of exploitation and oppression perpetuated by patriarchal structures in our society that subordinate and oppress women, especially the most marginalized sectors, the IPs, workers, peasants, urban poor, and migrant women.
This year’s “One Billion Rising” theme “Solidarity – Rise, Resist, Unite!” is timely as we witness the growing resistance around the globe of women uniting on common issues affecting them: against corporate greed and neo-liberal attacks; against environmental plunder, against fascism and tyrannical regimes, militarism, and the so-called “war on terror” resulting to assaults on human rights.
Currently, we are confronted with similar issues in our country – the TRAIN (Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion) Law, Martial Law in Mindanao, looming tyrannical rule nationwide, Charter Change, Federalism, attacks to human rights and particularly on women’s rights. These issues directly impact on women and exacerbate the violence they face in their daily lives.
So let us join hands in solidarity with our sisters around the globe to call for an end to violence against women in all its forms especially those perpetrated by the state and corporations.
Let us rise, resist and unite for genuine social change! # nordis.net