First, it was the children, a three-year old boy marked with bruises and signs of abuse. Then, the eight-year old that he began to slap and kick and beat. Then Lily, the 35-year old mother with five children, could not take it anymore. She and the children had endured his anger, shouting and cursing and emotional and physical violence for so long from her live-in partner that finally she took a stand and spoke out and got protection from his violent attacks. Most victims of such violence never report it to authorities. Lily was once an intimidated and frightened woman who took the beating herself and endured his violence then decided to change her world and fight back legally if the prosecutor will agree with her complaint.
Maria, 13 years old, was violently raped by her father but she and her mother stood together and fought back and with the help of the Preda Center, Maria was empowered and with support of her mother and Preda filed charges against her father and has strongly and clearly testified. He is facing four counts of rape and will likely be convicted. In the Philippines, women legislators worked hard and lobbied for the passage of a new law in 2022 making the age of sexual consent 16 (up from 12) and now sexual intercourse with a child below 16 will be statutory rape. Recently, female child victims of sexual violence, assisted by Preda, won four convictions in the past two months against a trafficker and child abusers. Three were sentenced to life in prison and one got 12 years. The Preda children that fight back for justice win an average of 15 to 16 convictions of their abusers every year, a strong message that such crimes will not be tolerated.
There is hope that women and children victim/survivors of violence and sexual abuse can change their world by standing up and fighting back for justice. The #MeToo movement gave hope and a greater chance for women and children to fight back by bringing their abusers to justice. A brave American woman, Jean Carroll, is bringing her cases of rape and defamation against Donald Trump in a New York courtroom. He, the former president of the United States, denies he ever did it. She is fighting back and says 23 year ago he did it to her in a New York department store. She bravely and courageously pursues justice saying that Trump lied about attacking her and “smeared her integrity, honesty, and dignity” and inventing a “swarm of related lies” claiming that she is telling lies. Several other women have made claims of sexual misconduct against Trump. All people must stand and support the women and children that are victims of violence.
The UN research says that 736 million women “have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life (30 per cent of women aged 15 and older)”. That figure, like the sexual abuse of children, is one in every three are victims of abuse.
We have to ask why so many males in the human species are filled with anger and hatred of others and turn to violence against women and children? What other species on the planet sexually and physically abuse their own women and children? Is such sexual violence retaliation for their own bad childhood experience of abuse? Is it for revenge, vengeance, a violent way to inflict on others what they suffered themselves? Whatever the crime, it is inexcusable yet seems to be a generational cycle of abuse and violence. Can it ever be stopped and if so, how?
The United Nations research team reports the following: “Globally 81,000 women and girls were killed in 2020, around 47,000 of them (58 per cent) died at the hands of an intimate partner or a family member, which equals to a woman or girl being killed every 11 minutes in their home. In 58 per cent of all killings perpetrated by intimate partners or other family members, the victim was a woman or girl.” A male shooter with an automatic rifle shot dead eight women, six of them were Asian, last March 2021 in Atlanta.
Some psychologists say males inflicting extreme violence on women were likely abused in their childhood, perhaps denied love by their mother, or beaten or sexually abused by their father or relatives. Others, especially those that turn to gun violence, were perhaps humiliated, hurt, shamed, bullied and rejected in school or at home. It is high time to educate youth and teachers and parents in the values of loving kindness and respect for everyone and end verbal and psychological abuse and humiliation of youth.
In the United States, where there are available credible statistics by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 11,000 women were murdered by gun violence between 2015 and 2019. Women are the targets of male partners and 57 women are killed with a gun every month by them. In 2016, research showed that one million women survivors had been shot by a partner and 4.5 million women had suffered death threats.
Weapons are used to inflict fear, intimidation and control over women. Women with disabilities, women of color and members of the LGBTQ community, have especially been targets.
Male dominance and the striving for total control over women is seen in some societies like Afghanistan where women are violently controlled and strongly discriminated against and cannot study, hold many jobs or now even go to a playground with their children. However, in many other societies especially in Asia, female success and empowerment and greater equality is prevalent. In the Philippines, for example, women have risen to leadership roles although there is much yet to be achieved to get equality.
In the Philippine congress since 2012, the percentage of seats held by women was 22.89 percent but in 2013 this had risen to 27.32 percent. That has slightly increased to 27.96 percent by 2021. The women in congress have been strong advocates of women and children’s rights and successful in passing legislation protecting women and children against violence. In the Philippines, women have greater control over their lives than ever before. Dozens of laws protect their rights and children’s rights although not all are properly implemented. Two presidents and two vice presidents have been women. The vice president today is a woman and secretary of education also. Last November 29, 2022 the Philippine congress passed yet another bill protecting women in the workplace. House Bill No. 4470, also known as the Anti-Discrimination of Women in their Workplaces Bill, was approved with votes of 248 members of the House of Representatives.
While violence against women is on the increase worldwide, so is the pushback and there are greater efforts to promote, protect and empower more women and children to stand and fight back against violence and abuse and assert their dignity and rights to equality and justice. https://youtu.be/BLND0cLJ9D0