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THE STRUGGLE GOES ON!

While the women in the Philippines enjoy a lot of freedom, the struggle to achieve gender equality goes on. We just do not have festivities to celebrate the Women's Month every March but we also conduct information drive on the laws that need to be enforced and amended. This is why GAD advocates visit local government units and conduct lectures on the Magna Carta of Women, Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC), and other pertinent topics. The Philippine National Police are also enjoined to all GAD activities.

I was fortunate to have listened to Atty. Jojie Balume, Vice President of the Women Law Advocates, in a public forum last March 7. She said that the Philippines has the Family Code, the Magna Carta of Women, Anti-Human Trafficking Law, Anti-Sexual Harassment Law, Breastfeeding Act of 2010, Advertising Act, and so on. But looking through these, Filipino women are still disenfranchised. For instance, under the Family Code,

Article 14 states that the father has the final decision whether or not a minor child (18-21 years old) can marry;
Article 21 gives preference to the father's decision over the properties of minor children in the family;
Article 55.1 provides that physical abuse can be a ground for legal separation IF THE ABUSE IS COMMITTED REPEATEDLY (abuse has to be done over and over before there can be a case? That is torture!); and
Article 96 and 124 protect the husband's authority and decision over conjugal properties.

The Revised Penal Code of the Philippines specifies that "prostitutes" or "vagrants" are WOMEN. On the other hand, male sex workers cannot be sued because there are no terminologies for them that indicate their commercial sexual activities.

Adultery can only be committed by a woman. Every event of sexual intercourse constitutes one count of adultery!

Males can be accused of concubinage under two circumstances, which are: (1) living with the mistress under one roof; or (2) overt sexual activities with the mistress. Where can you find an unfaithful husband who displays his affection for his mistress publicly? THIS IS ONE STUPID LAW!

Also, in the Revised Penal Code, there is NO RAPE if the rapist and his victim marry. HOW INHUMAN!

We also have the Labor Code which provides that women are not suppose to have work assignments from 10 PM to 6 AM (Article 131). But in factories and call centers, women prefer this schedule for higher pay (graveyard shift rate).

The Breastfeeding Act orders all private and government offices to provide facilities for nursing mothers but only big business establishments and some government agencies comply.

There are a lot more laws that need to be changed because the provisions are no longer relevant. Also, there are the issues of slow prosecution and resolution of cases due to red tape and lack of public prosecutors and judges. Why is there lack of public lawyers and judges? It is because private practice is more profitable than public service. On the part of (honest) judges, they simply enjoy the sound of being called "Your Honor" but they don't get rich. This is what my brother told me. My brother, Judge Francisco Guzman, served as Municipal Lawyer of Miagao for many years and he is now Municipal Judge of three towns in two provinces. He is sickly but is committed to serve the public.

I also have sister who is an OB-Gyn specialist in a public hospital, the Western Visayas Medical Center. She also serves as a consultant for VAW cases. I am so blessed to have her and my brother. Together, we serve the marginalized members of Philippine society!

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Comments

kateindc's picture

Helping in the gap

There is so often a gap between how women are protected in the law and how difficult things are in real life. The women in the Phillipines are lucky to have you, your sister, adn your brother working to help change things for the better!

lydiagcallano's picture

Thanks for the encouragement

Yes, my dear friend. I am indeed blessed to have siblings who are with me in the women's struggle for gender equality, protection against violence and vindication from abuses.

Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

Lydia-
Yes, the struggle DOES go on! What kinds of things are being done to change the laws? Since the police are invited to these GAD activities, do you see them joining forces with you as you work to make changes? If there is anything you've seen to be successful, we'd love to hear what those are, and what changes are being made. We join with you in your stand for women's rights, and rejoice with you when victories are won!

It is amazing that your brother continues to work towards justice even with his physical struggle! Keep us informed of the progress or campaigns. Thank you for sharing this article with us! All the best to you-

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

lydiagcallano's picture

Yes, I will update

Thanks, for the encouragement, Cali gal!

Atty. Balume informed us during the Public Forum that there is negligible progress in amending pertinent laws. Our female lawmakers are willing but they could not work on them readily due to other pressing concerns. Even if these lady GAD advocates in Congress can submit proposed amendments, they will not be able to get a majority vote because other lawmakers have their own agendas. Not to mention, GAD advocates in Philippine Congress are very few.

There are no figures as proof, but it is public knowledge that in general, our MALE lawmakers are philanderers. They look at women as commodities. Changing laws to protect and empower the Filipino woman will threaten their machismo image. They will no longer have scantily clad women in the media and ad materials to enjoy. They will not be able to sexually abuse women. In short, changing the laws will end their happy days. For them to jump on board, male lawmakers need to completely reverse their centuries-old mindset of superiority over women.

Both male and female police officers are well informed thru gender sensitivity training courses and seminars on pertinent laws. They respond (although sometimes inefficiently) to gender related cases. The Women's Desk in every police station is a haven of victims.

The offices of barangay (village) officials also have Women's Desk but not all villages have complied. More local executives, especially the newly elected ones, still need to be oriented and mobilized.

Given these facts, amending Philippine laws to be 100% gender fair remains a dream. Enforcing them 100% is another challenge. As a resilient people, however, Filipino women will be able to bear the burden patiently.

Till my next update.

Ma. Lydia G. Callano
Iloilo, Philippines
+63 33 3158137 or 5138830

Thank you, Lydia, for taking the time to reply. It does seem like a 'dream' for such immense change to take place both in the law and in the hearts of men. With persistence and hope, these changes will come to be. I have to keep looking at circumstances in small bits to remind myself that there is forward motion, albeit slow and arduous.

Have any campaigns been attempted to show women's solidarity and demand for change? Keep educating, keep marching, keep raising awareness.

We look forward to the day when you will write an entry or article about measurable changes reflected in law and action! Until then, keep fighting the fight, knowing there are so many around the world helping to make the burden a little lighter.

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

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