by: John Gabriel S. Almera and Alie Peter Neil C. Galeon
Officers of the Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) Desk of the 14 barangays of Los Baños attended a gender sensitivity training on March 14-15 at Los the Baños Municipal Multipurpose Hall.
The activity, which aimed to improve awareness and skills in handling cases of women abuses, was organized by the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office and held in line with the Women’s Month celebration.
According to social worker Marita Barcia, the training is timely in light of the need to correct stigma on gender issues and the need for gender sensitivity.
“Ang gender and development ay hindi war of sexes. Ang pinaguusapan dito ay involved ang mga kalalakihan at kababaihan–lahat. Sa pananaw ng iba, pag sinabing gender, puro babae lang. Hindi. Sama sama lahat,” Barcia said.
(Gender and development isn’t about the war between sexes. Men and women are both within the context–everyone. When we speak of gender, other people think that it is exclusive for women. That is not the case. Everyone’s equal.)
In her lecture, she emphasized that gender sensitivity is the ability to recognize different gender issues, particularly on women, from various social locations and gender roles.
The event also served as an orientation about law for the protection of women and their children, specifically Republic Act (RA) No 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004 and RA No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. According to Barcia, desk officers need to be fully aware of such laws for them to effectively do their job in terms of handling cases of abuses against women.
“Napakahalaga na matutunanan ng mga VAW desk officers ang gender and development. Ito kasi yung magbibigay ng hustisya doon sa kanilang mga hinahawakang kaso para maging fair sila kung bakit mayroong nagaganap na violence against women [at] violence against children,” Barcia said.
(It is important that the VAW desk officers should know more about gender and development. Through this, justice will be given to those whose cases are handled by the officers and that they would look fairly as to why there is a campaign against violence against women and children.)
For Lerma Lanceta, Barangay Malinta VAWC desk officer, the orientation would allow her to be knowledgeable in handling cases within her jurisdiction.
“Mapapagtagumpayan mo ang iyong trabaho kung may knowledge ka [tungkol sa gender and development] din, kasi ang hawak naming posisyon [VAWC desk officer] ay hindi basta-basta,” the officer shared.
(You will be able to do your work more efficiently once you have knowledge [regarding gender and development], since this our work and it is not easy.)
According to her, VAWC officers are responsible for giving medical and legal assistance, and counseling to victims of abuses, such as sexual abuse.
“Pag approach ng cliente sayo, pakakalmahin mo muna siya. Kapag siya ay panatag na, na kaya na niya magsalaysay, doon mo na siya i-counseling, itatanong mo kung ano desisyon nila kasi sila ang magdedesisyon eh, hindi ikaw yung magtuturo kung ano dapat gawin, sila yun. Gitna lang tayo pero ang care natin ay dun sa nasaktan, sa babae, sa anak,” Lanceta said.
(As you approach the victim of the abuse, try to keep the person calm. Once calm, she will be able to give her narrative–that’s when you counsel her. Ask her about what she intends to do regarding the case. She should be the one to decide as we remain neutral, although providing care to the abused, the woman, the children.)
RA No 9262 states the “protection of the dignity of women and children and guarantees full respect to human rights.” Acts of violence covered by this law include but are not limited to physical, sexual, psychological, economic abuse, battery, and stalking.
Meanwhile, RA No. 9208 states that the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall also be considered as “trafficking in persons”. According to Barcia, online sexual exploitation, a form of abuse, can also be classified to child trafficking.
Officials from Los Baños-PNP are expected to discuss more on human trafficking for the second leg of the training.