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!