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Launch of ‘One Billion Rising’ against women abuse

/ 08:38 PM October 02, 2013

A few days ago I received a call from a woman (let’s name her Lilah) who needed legal help because of the violence inflicted on her by her husband who happens to wield some power in the community. Lilah wanted to know if there were women’s groups that offered free legal help as she was still not financially able. (I am not giving details of the case here because the abusive husband may get to read this column piece and terrorize his wife and children some more.)

I called five or more women who I knew were connected with nongovernment organizations and a government office that I thought might have legal services for someone like Lilah. The responses were discouraging. How they wished they could still help, several told me. I learned that their legal services had to stop because of funding problems. One said that all they could provide now is legal counseling by phone or referrals to women lawyers who may take up cases pro bono or accept reduced legal fees on installment. Or, one suggested, Lilah can try the lawyers at the Public Attorney’s Office, but then their hands may also be full with all kinds of cases.

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One lawyer I know who has handled a big controversial case said her pro bono quota was really filled up but—how kind of her—she gave Lilah legal advice through the phone and made a referral. One antiviolence-against-women (VAW) advocate told me her group had to close the crisis center and their legal services because funds had dried up. One of the reasons, she said, was that foreign donors thought the Philippines was “now okay” and no longer in need of aid in the VAW department.

And then she gave me a rundown of what the Magna Carta for Women includes, which is that local government units should provide services for victims of VAW. There should be funds for this, but where did they go? Your guess is as good as mine. Some have been used for tree planting and whatever else.

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She cited the training workshops on women’s concerns and gender awareness that personnel of government agencies and LGUs have gone through. Great. But after all that training in gender sensitivity, what next? Of what use are these workshops if the participants have nothing to start with when they go back to those they serve?

But empowered women do not take no for an answer and will continue to take up the cudgels for their sisters who have yet to be in step with them—the oppressed and abused at home or in workplaces, victims of familial, societal, cultural and religious structures and beliefs.

Announced yesterday was the global launch on Oct. 7 of “One Billion Rising for Justice,” a global action day on Feb. 14, 2014, which is an escalation of women’s efforts “to demand an end to violence against women and girls by ending the culture of impunity that keeps it in place.” Stage veteran, actress and women’s advocate Monique Wilson is now the global director of the campaign and representing the Philippines in this global position.

There will be simultaneous launches on Oct. 7 in 30 places, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Croatia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan, Somalia and the United States. Eve Ensler, writer and head of V-Day who spearheaded One Billion Rising, will be doing a simultaneous launch in New York.

One Billion Rising for Justice is “a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice—courts, police stations, government offices, colleges, workplaces, places of worship, homes. It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories—politically, spiritually, outrageously—through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right.”

The organizers stress that the statistics have not changed. “One in three women on the planet is raped or beaten in her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION women violated. ONE BILLION daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters, lovers and friends. We need to do all we can, speak louder, go further, be bolder—to make sure this [situation] changes. We need more than one billion women and men to sign up for this revolutionary justice…”

And so the call: “On 14 February 2013, one billion people in 207 countries rose and danced to demand an end to violence against women and girls. On 14 February 2014, we are escalating our efforts, calling on women and men everywhere to RISE, RELEASE, DANCE and demand JUSTICE!

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“Our stories have been buried, denied, erased, altered and minimized by patriarchal systems that allow impunity to reign. Justice begins when we speak, release and acknowledge the truth in solidarity and community. ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE is an invitation to break free from confinement, obligation, shame, guilt, grief, pain, humiliation, rage, and bondage. It is a call to bring on revolutionary justice.”

You can go to the One Billion Rising for Justice website (onebillionrising.org) and include your name among the one billion. You can also watch what it was like last year.

* * *

Breast Cancer Awareness month: ICanServe Foundation is holding a Pink Positive Wellness Forum and a free breast and cervical clinic on Oct. 5, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., at the Filinvest Tent in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of October there will be ICanServe gift booths in Rockwell (near Rustan’s) in Makati, and every Saturday and Sunday at Festival Mall (near the Carousel) in Alabang. There will be pledge walls for people to write messages of hope for the breast cancer community. Please support the battle against breast cancer.

(Send feedback to [email protected] or www.ceresdoyo.com)

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TAGS: Human Face, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, One Billion Rising for Justice, opinion, women, Women abuse
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