Monday, May 2, 2016

Violence Against Women and Children

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN (VAWC). We constantly hear and see these words mentioned over and over again in news reports and in newspapers. But what do we really know about VAWC? Here are the basics, as taken from Republic Act 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004.

Violence against women and their children (“VAWC”) is defined as any act or a series of acts committed by any person:

     (1) against a woman who is his wife or his former wife, or 

     (2) against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or  with whom he has a common child, or 

     (3) against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate.

The act or acts are committed by the perpetrator within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

VAWC includes, but is not limited to, the following:

     1. Physical Violence, which refers to acts that include bodily or physical harm;

     2. Sexual violence, which refers to an act which is sexual in nature, committed against a woman or her child. It includes, but is 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.

     3. Psychological violence, which 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 marital 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.

     4. Economic abuse, which refers to acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent which includes, but is not limited to the following:

          a) 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;

          b) 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;

          c) Destroying household property;

          d) Controlling the victims' own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.

What can a victim of VAWC do to protect herself or her child?

The victim can apply for a Barangay Protection Order (BPO), a Temporary Protection Order (TPO), or a Permanent Protection Order (PPO).

The relief granted under a protection order serves the purpose of safeguarding the victim from further harm, minimizing any disruption in the victim's daily life, and facilitating the opportunity and ability of the victim to independently regain control over her life. The provisions of the protection order shall be enforced by law enforcement agencies. 

Where to Apply for a Protection Order
Applications for BPOs shall follow the rules on venue under Sec. 409 of the Local Government Code of 1991 and its implementing rules and regulations. 
Sec. 409 of the Local Government Code provides:
SEC. 409. Venue. - (a) Disputes between persons actually residing in the same barangay shall be brought for amicable settlement before the lupon of said barangay.
(b) Those involving actual residents of different barangays within the same city or municipality shall be brought in the barangay where the respondent or any of the respondents actually resides, at the election of the complainant.
(c) All disputes involving real property or any interest therein shall be brought in the barangay where the real property or the larger portion thereof is situated.
(d) Those arising at the workplace where the contending parties are employed or at the institution where such parties are enrolled for study, shall be brought in the barangay where such workplace or institution is located. Objections to venue shall be raised in the mediation proceedings before the punong barangay; otherwise, the same shall be deemed waived. Any legal question which may confront the punong barangay in resolving objections to venue herein referred to may be submitted to the Secretary of Justice, or his duly designated representative, whose ruling thereon shall be binding.
An application for a TPO or PPO may be filed in the regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, municipal circuit trial court with territorial jurisdiction over the place of residence of the petitioner: provided, however, that if a family court exists in the place of residence of the petitioner, the application shall be filed with that court.
Who may file Petition for Protection Orders
A petition for protection order may be filed by any of the following:
     (a) The offended party;
     (b) Parents or guardians of the offended party;
      (c) Ascendants, descendants or collateral relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity;
     (d) Officers or social workers of the DSWD or social workers of local government units (LGUs);
     (e) Police officers, preferably those in charge of women and children's desks;
     (f) Punong Barangay or Barangay Kagawad;
     (g) Lawyer, counselor, therapist or healthcare provider of the petitioner;
     (h) At least two (2) concerned responsible citizens of the city or municipality where the violence against women and their children occurred and who has personal knowledge of the offense committed.

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