“There is no greater weapon against violence than education and understanding.” -Nelson Mandela

PILI, CAMARINES SUR — To promote a work environment that is free from violence against women and their children (VAWC), the Department of Agriculture in Bicol through its Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Point System led by Regional Focal Person Aloha Gigi I. Bañaria spearheaded a Seminar on VAWC on December 13, 2023. This is in support to the Philippine Commission on Women’s (PCW) 18-Day Campaign to End VAW.

Twenty-three staff from various divisions and sections in DA Bicol participated in the seminar conducted by psychologist and Naga City Councilor Dr. Gilda Gayle Abonal-Gomez. She discussed the psychological effects of abuse on women in which she shared the cycle of violence namely disempowerment, anger, self-redemption and renewed sense of self.

“Many victims don’t report their assault because they are fearful because the perpetrators are living among them or are people they know, they are focusing on meeting their basic needs, they don’t know who to talk to, they feel ashamed and think this is their fault, and they have low self-esteem,” she said.

She also cited some effects of violence on children which include becoming violent themselves, suicidal attempts, drug use and alcohol abuse, developing eating disorders, self-abuse, anxiety and depression, poor social skills, and entering an abusive relationship later.

She urged DA Bicol employees to assist victims in becoming survivors by providing emotional support to colleagues who are experiencing VAWC. She said that this can be done by constantly checking in to gain awareness about their emotions, recognizing their emotions as an opportunity to connect, teach, and coach, and helping them label their emotions. She also underscored the value of listening with empathy and validating the victim’s feelings and referring them to seek professional help, if necessary.

“Empathy is very important nowadays. It is knowing how others feel, thinking how they also think. It is really one ingredient of kindness,” she said.

Gomez also reiterated that designating at least one anti-sexual harassment officer to receive Gender-Based Sexual Harassment (GBSH) complaints is stated in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 11313, or the “Safe Spaces Act.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (1993) defines VAW as “any act of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public and private life. Gender-based violence is any violence inflicted on women because of their sex.”

Meanwhile, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) National Demographic Health Survey 2022 shows that 17.5 percent of Filipino women, aged 15-49, have been victims of physical, emotional, or sexual violence by their husbands or partners.

The 18-Day campaign to End VAW is an advocacy campaign being observed annually from November 25 to December 12 as mandated by Proclamation 1172 s. 2006 to address all forms of violence against women and protect their human rights. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V)

Photo Credits: Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V