As much as we would like to believe that our society is on its way towards being a safe and respectful environment for women, the numbers quite disagree.
According to the Philippine Commission on Women, one in five Filipino women aged 15 to 49, have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. Every day, catcalling, unwanted grabbing, wolf-whistling, and sexual advances still persist towards women⎯whether on the streets, at work, or even inside their own homes.
Let’s face it: we are still a minority. And not in terms of numbers. The dictionary also defines “minority” as being different from the social majority, and subordinate to a dominant group. So whether or not more than half of the Philippine population is comprised of women, being a minority is not about the numbers. It’s about social power and capacity⎯or lack thereof.
The recurrence of cases on violence against women justifies that the strength of a man is being used as a dominant advantage, the fact the men get away with catcalling and unwanted sexual advances emphasize the power that they hold in our social construct, and the existence of rape proves that women are not safe.
Facing threats as such, we must know how we can stand up for herself, how to fight the battles of prejudice and inequality, and how to use the law for our own protection.
Here are the Philippines’ laws that protect women:
Magna Carta of Women
The Magna Carta of Women or the Republic Act 9710 conveys a framework of women’s rights, based directly on international law. It seeks to eliminate discrimination through the recognition, protection, fulfillment, and promotion of the rights of Filipino women⎯especially to those that belong in the marginalized sectors of society.
Anti Violence Against Women & Children Act of 2004
Republic Act 9264 addresses the violence committed against women and children. It refers to any act or series of acts committed by any person against a woman or a child, which results 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. Penalties include a fine of no less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) and imprisonment.
105-day Expanded Maternity Leave Law
Signed into law just this year, the Republic Act 11210 extends the previous 60-days (78 days for caesarian section delivery for women workers in the private sector) paid maternity leave to 105 days.
Prohibition on Discrimination Against Women
This law is most useful for working ladies. Republic Act 6725 prohibits discrimination with respect to terms and conditions of employment solely on the basis of sex. This means that under this law, any employer favoring a male employee over a female in terms of training, opportunities, promotion, and other benefits solely on account of sex is considered discrimination.
Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995
Republic Act 7877 addresses the issue of sexual harassment committed in employment, education or training environment. Sexual favors made as a condition in the employment or granting promotions or privileges; or the refusal to grant the sexual favor results in limiting, segregating or classifying the employee which in any way would discriminate, deprive or diminish employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect is punishable by law.
Anti-Rape Law of 1997
This law declares the policy of the State to provide necessary assistance and protection for rape victims. According to the Republic Act 8505, the government shall coordinate its various agencies and non-government organizations to work hand in hand for the establishment and operation of a rape crisis center in every province and city that shall assist and protect rape victims in the litigation of their cases and their recovery
Safe Spaces Act
Finally signed this year, the Safe Spaces Act or commonly known as the Bawal Bastos Law or Republic Act 11313, condemns actions or deeds that are considered gender-based street and public spaces sexual harassment and are committed through unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person, regardless of the motive, punishable by law.
These laws amplify women’s voices and defend us under the law.
It is important that every woman is not only aware of the things that threaten us, but should also be aware of the things that protect us.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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