Q & A: Constitutional and Legislative Provisions on Violence Against Women

Release Date: 

Monday, March 9, 2009


1. What are the specific constitutional and legislative provisions regarding Violence Against Women (VAW)?

1.1The 1987 Philippine Constitution - The protection of the human rights of all Filipinos is contained in the Philippine Constitution. Among its salient provisions is Article II, Section 14 which provides that “the state recognizes the role of women in nation building and shall ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.”

1.2 Anti-Mail Order Bride Law (Republic Act 6955) – The law declares unlawful the matching of Filipino mail-order brides to foreigners. It penalizes the business of matching Filipino women for marriage to foreign nationals either through personal introduction as well as through advertisement, publication, printing or distribution of brochure and flyers, through membership in clubs created for matching Filipinas to foreign nationals and, through the use of the postal service.

1.3 Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 (Republic Act 7877) – The law makes incidents involving unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of sexual nature, made directly or indirectly in the employment, education or training environment unlawful. Sexual harassment is about abusing power relations – using one’s power to extract sexual favors.

1.4 Anti-Rape Law of 1997 (Republic Act 8353) – The law reclassifies rape as a crime against persons, defining it as public rather than a private crime. It recognizes marital rape and questions the notion of sexual obligation in marriage. It also notes that rape happens even without penetration and the use of objects as constituting sexual assault, which is also considered as a form of rape. The law also increased the penalties against rape.

1.5 Rape Victims Assistance and Protection Act of 1998 (Republic Act 8505) – The law provides assistance and protection to rape victims, establishes for the purpose a rape crisis center in every province and city and authorizes the appropriation of funds for the establishment and operation of the rape crisis center. Aside from the provision of services, capacity building/training is also mandated for the law enforcement officers, public prosecutors, lawyers, medico-legal officers, social workers and barangay officials on human rights and their responsibilities, gender sensitivity and legal management of rape cases.

1.6 Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (Republic Act 9208) – The law defines trafficking in person in terms of the acts, means and purposes of trafficking. The trafficked person is considered as a victim thus, she/he should be provided protection and support services by the State. Government agencies are mandated to provide services to the trafficked persons at the international, national and local levels for his/her early recovery and reintegration.

1.7  Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 (Republic Act 9262) – The law defines violence against women and their children as a public crime. It provides for the security of the woman-complainant and her children through the availment of the barangay, temporary or permanent protection orders. It also identifies the duties of barangay officials, law enforces, prosecutors, court personnel, social welfare and health care providers and the LGUs to provide the necessary protection and support of VAWC victims. 
The Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 is in keeping with the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other international human rights instruments which the Philippines is a party. The forms of VAW addressed are physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse. 
1.8  Article 245 of the Revised Penal Code (Republic Act 3815) – The law provides that abuse against chastity is committed by any public officer who shall solicit or make immoral advances to a woman interested in matters pending before such office for decision, or with respect to which he is required to submit a report to or consult with a superior officer; or by any warden or other public officer directly charged with the care and custody of prisoners or persons under arrest who shall solicit or make immoral or indecent advances to a woman under his custody. A penalty of prison correctional in its medium and maximum periods and temporary special disqualification shall be imposed on the offender. 
2. What specific guidelines, protocols or manuals are providing advice on how to implement the legislations?
2.1  National Strategic Plan Against Trafficking in Persons (2004-2010) 
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking in Persons (IACAT), in coordination with other government agencies and non-government organizations and other stakeholders, initiated the formulation of an integrated strategic plan of action against trafficking. The six-year (2004-2010) Strategic Plan of Action Against Trafficking is divided into three major components of interventions; (a) prevention; (b) protection, including law enforcement and prosecution; and (c) repatriation, recovery and reintegration. The Strategic Plan serves as the blue print for action of all government agencies, local government units, NGOs and other sectors in combating trafficking in persons. The National Strategic Plan Against Trafficking in Persons was approved by the IACAT on November 4, 2004.  
2.2  Strategic Plan of the IACVAWC (2007-2010) 
The Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their Children (IACVAWC), composed of national government agencies tasked to formulate plans to address VAWC, developed its five-year Strategic Plan to intensify efforts to combat VAW. It includes strategies and mechanisms where concerned stakeholders are expected to participate. It serves as the blue print for VAWC prevention and the protection and rehabilitation of victims-survivors of VAW in the next five years.
2.3  Performance Standards and Assessment Tools for Services Addressing Violence Against Women in the Philippines.  
The performance standards proceed from legal mandates provided by national laws as well as various international conventions and declarations. These legal mandates and the existing services and operations of the agency relating to VAW are presented in the baseline report as the context in which the performance standards were developed.  The standards were developed (1) as a tool for direct service providers to respond effectively to cases of VAW, (2) as a means to gauge the level of compliance with national policies, (3) as basis for generating concrete data needed for program development and policy formulation, and (4) as advocacy tool for protecting women’s human rights especially of VAW victims.
Each set is introduced by an Overview, followed by the Performance Standards and an Assessment Tool to guide compliance with the standards as well as generate data for monitoring and evaluation purposes. The data generated is also a tool for prioritization and planning particularly in the use of the GAD budget. A Baseline Report is also included to put the standards in context.
The package consists of five sets of documents for each of the five service categories, represented by the government agency tasked primarily to render such type of service, as follows:
  • Philippine National Police (PNP) for investigatory services or procedures 
  • Department of Health (DOH) for medical or hospital-based services  
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for psychosocial services  
  • Department of Justice (DOJ) for legal/prosecution services  
  • DILG and LGUs for anti-VAW services at the  barangay, municipal, city and provincial levels.
3. What specific National Strategy or Action Plan addresses VAW? 
3.1 The Philippines has adopted several National Plans to address VAW starting with the Philippine Development Plan for Women (PDPW), 1989-1992, which was approved and adopted on February 17, 1989 through Executive Order 348. Chapter 12 of the PDPW specifically identifies programs and projects to address the following forms of VAW: domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, pornography, white slavery/prostitution, military rapes and sexual abuses and medical abuse (including unnecessary abortion and caesareans). 
3.2 The PDPW was succeeded by the  Philippine Plan for Gender-Responsive Development (1995-2025),  signed on September 8, 1995, through Executive Order 273 by then president Fidel V. Ramos. The PPGD carries the long-term vision of women’s empowerment and gender equality and translates the Beijing Platform for action into policies and strategies and programs and projects for Filipino women. 
It includes a chapter (i.e., Chapter 19) on Violence Against Women which identifies, among others, the following common forms of VAW: domestic violence, marital rape, incest, reproductive rights violations, rape, sexual harassment, sex discrimination, lesbophobia/homophobia, medical abuse, abuse of women with physical or mental disabilities, culture-bound practices harmful to women, ritual abuse within religious cults, sexual slavery, prostitution and international trafficking of women, pornography and abuse of women in media, abuse of women in internal refugee or relocation camps, and custodial abuse   
3.3  Framework Plan for Women (FPW) 2001-2004. The FPW is a time-slice of the PPGD and it was prepared by the NCRFW in collaboration with partner government agencies in 2001. Following the direct instructions from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, FPW concretizes the priority goals of government towards the advancement of women. The development of the FPW was guided by the PPGD and the BPFA framework. It adopts the gender and development approach which recognizes that the unequal gender relations between Filipino women and men impede the pursuit of national development goals. The FPW acknowledges the inter-relationship of VAW, reproductive health, and human rights and reflects this in its commitment to addressing the “structural roots of gender gaps”.  The FPW emphasizes human rights and situates VAW in its goal to promote women’s human rights committing to protect and advance women’s human rights through strengthened service and justice delivery system for survivors of VAW and an information, education campaign on women’s rights. The FPW outlines its thrusts along three areas of concern:  Women’s Human Rights, Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Gender-Responsive Governance. 
Source: GAD Resource Kit, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, Manila. 



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