Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 13:14 GMT

Philippines: The protection offered to female victims of sexual abuse

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 13 March 2008
Citation / Document Symbol PHL102719.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Philippines: The protection offered to female victims of sexual abuse, 13 March 2008, PHL102719.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4804c0db37.html [accessed 12 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Freedom House reports that "[r]ape, domestic violence, [and] sexual harassment on the job ... continue to be major problems despite efforts in government and civil society to protect women from violence and abuse" (2007). Similarly, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006 states that violence against women "remained a serious problem" (US 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5). According to the Philippine Star, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported 22,724 victims of sexual abuse from 2000 to 2005 (27 Sept. 2007). The DSWD, which provides programs and services for specific groups including women (Philippines n.d.a), reports on its website that it provided assistance to 237 female victims of rape, 91 female victims of incest and 5 female victims of "acts of lasciviousness" in 2006 (ibid. n.d.b). According to the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW), the number of cases of violence against women increased from 1,100 in 1996 to 6,505 in 2005, and police records for 2005 indicate that 17.2 percent of cases reported to the police were rape cases (Philippines Mar. 2006).

The Anti-Rape Law of 1997, which amends the definitions of the crime of rape in the Revised Penal Code, also defines marital rape as a crime unless the wife forgives the offender (i.e., her husband) (ibid. 30 Sept. 1997, Sec. 2).

The Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998 was enacted in 1998 (ibid. 13 Feb. 1998) and declares it "the policy of the State to provide necessary assistance and protection for rape victims" (ibid., Sec. 2). This legislation also requires that a rape crisis centre be established in every province and city under the leadership of the DSWD (ibid., Sec. 3) and that a "women's desk ... be established in every police precinct throughout the country to provide a police woman to conduct investigation of complaints of women rape victims" (ibid., Sec. 4). The only mention of rape crisis centres on the DSWD website indicates that they are part of a pilot project to "test out the viability of operationalizing a facility within the province or city" (Philippines n.d.c).

The Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 was enacted in 2004 to promote the protection of women and children who are victims of violence (Philippines 8 Mar. 2004, Sec. 4). Although the act provides a definition of violence against women that includes sexual violence, section three limits the definition of violence against women and their children to include acts committed only by a person who is the spouse or had a relationship with the woman (ibid., Sec. 3; US 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5). This legislation provides for protection orders to be issued to prevent further acts of violence against women (Philippines 8 Mar. 2004, Sec. 8). Country Reports 2006 indicates that the Philippines National Police reported 1,269 cases relevant to this act and that this number "likely underreported significantly the level of violence against women in the country" (US 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5).

Information regarding the implementation or effectiveness of these three acts could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

The National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) was established on 7 January 1975 to promote equality between men and women (Philippines n.d.d). The NCRFW website lists numerous hotlines for victims of violence against women (VAW) and provides contact information (ibid. n.d.e). However, the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women indicates in its concluding comments on the Philippines that it is concerned that the NCRFW lacks "authority, capacity and resources" and the UN recommends that the government increase awareness of violence against women and its unacceptability (UN 25 Aug. 2006, Para. 13 and 16).

In correspondence to the Research Directorate dated 13 March 2008, the Women's Crisis Center (WCC), a non-governmental organization (NGO) located in Quezon city that provides assistance to female victims of abuse, provided the following information regarding shelters for women:

HAVEN-Substitute Home Care for Women (SHCW): there are 12 of these all over the country; one for each region, but there is no SHCW located in regions 9, 12, Autonomous Region of Moslem Mindanao and CARAGA. It provides temporary shelter and protective custody to women ages 18-59. The distribution of shelter facilities is as follows:

National Capital RegionHAVEN Muntinlupa City
Region 1Bauang, La Union
Region 2Solana, Cagayan
Region 3Magalang, Pampanga
Region 4Rosario, Batangas
Region 5Ligao, Albay
Region 6New Lucena, Iloilo
Region 7Labangon, Cebu City
Region 8Pawing Palo, Leyte
Region 10Canitoan, Cagayan de Oro City
Region 11Maa, Davao City
Cordillera Autonomous RegionNorth Drive, Baguio City

The WCC added that "these shelters are usually congested and do not have sufficient resources to provide long-term services for the survivors" (WCC 13 Mar. 2008).

According to Country Reports 2006, both the Philippines National Police and the DSWD maintained units to address violence against women (US 6 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5). The Manila Bulletin reports that the Central Police District in Fairview has created a unit to assist victims of sexual crimes called the Women and Children Complaints Desk (WCCD), which is staffed with female officers (n.d.). Other Filipino media sources refer to WCCDs in other locations (Sun Star 7 Jan. 2006; Sunday Punch 27 Aug. 2006; Manila Bulletin 3 Aug. 2006; The Pangasinan Star 10 Aug. 2005) and one news article indicates that they are operating in various municipal police stations across the country (ibid.); however, additional information on WCCDs could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Freedom House. 2007. "Philippines." Freedom in the World 2007. [Accessed 11 Feb. 2008]

Manila Bulletin. 3 August 2006. "Special Probe Room for Women, Children." [Accessed 21 Feb. 2008]
_____. N.d. "Special Probe Room for Women, Kids: Fairview Police Set up Child-Friendly, Private Investigation Office for Victims of Sex Crimes." [Accessed 21 Feb. 2008]

Pangasinan Star. 10 August 2005. "Rape Cases Rising." [Accessed 25 Feb. 2008]

Philippines. March 2006. National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW). "Violence Against Women: Factsheet on Filipino Women." [Accessed 26 Feb. 2008]
_____. 8 March 2004. Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004. [Accessed 21 Feb. 2008]
_____. 13 February 1998. Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998. [Accessed 26 Feb. 2008]
_____. 30 September 1997. The Anti-Rape Law of 1997. [Accessed 25 Feb. 2008]
_____. N.d.a. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). "Organization Functions." [Accessed 25 Feb. 2008]
_____. N.d.b. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). "Total Number of Women in Especially Difficult Circumstances (WEDC) Served by the DSWD." [Accessed 25 Feb. 2008]
_____. N.d.c. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). "Social Welfare and Development Technologies." [Accessed 25 Feb. 2008]
_____. N.d.d. National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW). "Background." [Accessed 26 Feb. 2008]
_____. N.d.e. National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW). "Government VAW Hotlines." [Accessed 26 Feb. 2008]

Philippine Star. 27 September 2007. Domini M. Torrevillas. "From the Stands." [Accessed 21 Feb. 2008]

Sunday Punch. 27 August 2006. "27 'Flesh' Trade Workers Nabbed in Dagupan." [Accessed 25 Feb. 2008]

Sun Star [Bacolod]. 7 January 2006. Ryan B. Lachica. "'Bonnet Gang' Victim Confirmed Raped." [Accessed 25 Feb. 2008]

United Nations (UN). 25 August 2006. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Concluding Comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women: Philippines. (CEDAW/C/PHI/CO/6) [Accessed 18 Feb. 2008]

United States (US). 6 March 2007. Department of State. "Philippines." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006. [Accessed 18 Feb. 2008]

Women's Crisis Center (WCC). 13 March 2008. Correspondence from the Executive Director.

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: GABRIELA Philippines and the Women's Crisis Center did not provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Attempts to contact the Linanga ng Kababaihan (LIKHAAN) were unsuccessful.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Manila Times, Minda News, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Social Weather Stations (SWS).

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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