Access to Justice
The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, specifically on Chapter 6: Pursuing Swift and Fair Administration of Justice underscores some issues and challenges of this sector that still need to be addressed. These are as follows:
- fragmentation of the justice system
- backlogs in resolving cases and delays in case development procedures continue to increase, and penal facilities are occupied way beyond capacity
- lack of public awareness, trust and investor confidence underscores the people’s low appreciation of the country’s justice system
- limited resources of relevant agencies cause inefficiency and slow delivery of justice
Why prioritize this sector?
Access to justice is a fundamental right and an essential factor for women’s empowerment and gender equality, especially for the vulnerable and the marginalized sectors including women and girls. Addressing the promotion and protection of women’s human rights in the pursuit of access to justice should be a paramount goal of every Filipino. However, discriminatory justice systems can undermine this women’s human rights and when such systems cannot ensure equal access to justice for all, the vulnerable and marginalized like women and girls become even more disadvantaged, and their human rights are placed at risk.
Access to justice initiatives should be geared towards one ultimate goal – to empower the vulnerable and marginalized women and bring them to the sense of “justice” they request and demand.
The women victims of violence are the ones who often experience various difficulties and barriers in accessing justice. The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey shows that 1 in 5 women or 20% has ever experienced emotional violence, 14% has ever experienced physical violence, and 5% has ever experienced sexual violence by their current or most recent husband or partner.
Data from the Department of Justice in 2017 alone revealed that violence against women and their children has 16,343 cases with 675 convictions, rape has 10,892 cases with 1,759 convictions, and human trafficking has 426 cases with 39 convictions. Reports gathered by the Philippine National Police from 2004 to 2017 showed a drastic increase in violence against women cases – the highest percentage reported was violence against women and their children accounting to more than 85% of the cases. Other cases such as rape and acts of lasciviousness were also alarmingly high. Gender-based violence against women continues to be one of the most prevalent social problems in the country and the impact of the justice system to these women victims poses specific challenges.