MANILA – Digital copies of the Barangay Violence Against Women (VAW) Desk handbook are now available online for download and they come in five languages namely English, Filipino, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, and Ilokano.

To recall, the English and Filipino language versions of the handbook were originally published in 2012, followed by the Cebuano language version in 2019, and the Hiligaynon and Ilokano language versions in 2020.

“The Barangay Violence Against Women Desk Handbook is meant to assist barangay workers and officials in responding to cases of violence committed against women,” the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) said in a Facebook post.

According to the PCW, the handbooks were made available online for public download through its Digital Gender and Development (GAD) Library (https://library.pcw.gov.ph) to provide greater access to its knowledge and information resources.

The handbooks provide a detailed discussion on how the punong barangay (village chief) can set up and maintain a VAW Desk and explains to the designated Barangay VAW Desk Officer his/her responsibilities as the person-in-charge of the desk.

They also include information to guide barangay officials and volunteers on how to give efficient and effective services and aid to victim-survivors.

The handbooks were a result of combined efforts of the PCW, Departments of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Education (DepEd), Health (DOH) and Philippine National Police (PNP).

In her message in the English version of the handbook, then PCW Chairperson Remedios Rikken expressed hope that the handbook would guide barangay officials in the operation of VAW desks.

“We hope our partners at the local level will find this as a useful reference and empower them to become dedicated public servants who are committed to contribute to a VAW-free society,” Rikken, who was PCW chair from 2010 to 2016, said.

Former DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero, for his part, said the handbook will help raise the knowledge and capacity of barangays and their designated officials and staff on the nuances and processes of the law as well as the detailed steps on the establishment and operationalization of their respective VAW Desk.

Panadero said all LGUs must be ready to prevent VAW and protect women from perpetrators of such acts.
Rikken underscored that VAW remains a pervasive social issue that government officials should address at various levels.

“Sa ating mga kasama sa barangay at pamahalaang lokal, umaasa po kami na patuloy tayong makikipagtulungan sa mga kababaihan upang ipaglaban ang kanilang mga karapatan, at makikipag-ugnayan sa mga kalalakihang kasapi ng Men Opposed to VAW Everywhere (MOVE) at iba pang mga organisasyon na may ganitong layunin (To our colleagues in the barangay and local government, we hope that we will continue to work with women to fight for their rights, and contact the male members of Men Opposed to VAW Everywhere and other organizations that with similar purpose),” she said.

Under Republic Act (RA) 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004, VAW is defined as “any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, with or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”

One in four Filipino women aged 15-49 has experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence by their husband or partner, according to the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Apart from the Barangay VAW Desk, other mechanisms to address VAW in the Philippines are the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their Children; Inter-Agency Council Against-Trafficking; and the Local Committee on Anti-Trafficking and VAW. (PNA)