Blow the whistle on violence against women, PCW urges

“UNiTE: Stop Violence Against Women (VAW) Now!,” is this year’s theme of the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW. In support of United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s message that VAW is a global pandemic that “harms women, families, communities and societies, and “can only be stopped by working together,” the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) employs an attention grabbing approach to call on women to claim and defend their rights and to make men part of the solution to end VAW in this year’s 18-Day Campaign to End VAW in the country.

The “Blow the Whistle on VAW” movement is in support of the global campaign of Ban Ki-Moon’s UNiTE to End VAW which was launched in 2008. It introduces the whistle, commonly used for life-threatening situations such as survival, disaster preparedness, and crime prevention, as an emergency tool for calling attention and preventing VAW and in supporting survivors.

PCW Chairperson Remmy Rikken said violence can happen to women of any age, class, looks and economic background and the whistle is a practical emergency signal device that is “handy and easy to carry around, more attention-grabbing than shouting, and can also be helpful for women who cannot speak.”

The Philippine launch of the UNiTE to End VAW on November 25 at the Ateneo Professionals Schools Building, Makati will mark the first day of the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW. The event is organized by the PCW, Ateneo Human Rights Center-Ateneo Law School and UN Women-Philippines.

The PCW seeks that this year’s commemoration will intensify the country’s efforts to make anti-VAW laws translate into equality and justice through information dissemination, constant dialogues among key government agencies and service providers on VAW, and strengthening partnerships with the private sector in stopping VAW.

“While we have passed the MCW and other anti-VAW laws, enforcement is often poor and women still continue to experience unsympathetic attitudes from judicial officials who are supposed to protect them. This has to stop. Justice should be served,” Rikken said.

Making the critical link between VAW and human rights, the campaign observes several significant dates in its 18 days, including November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women; November 29, International Women’s Human Rights Defenders Day; December 1, World AIDS Day; December 6, the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, where a man deliberately gunned down 14 women students; December 10, the International Human Rights Day; and December 12 the Anti-Human Trafficking Day in the Philippines.

The 18-Day Campaign to End VAW is an annual campaign dedicated to drum up support for the elimination of VAW. The event is in collaboration of the PCW and the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their Children (IACVAWC).