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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Protecting our women and children against violence Part 2

In a previous article, we reported about the progress of SAGIP, a project initiated in 1998 by the Zonta Club of Muntinlupa and Environs in collaboration with the City Government of Muntinlupa.


SAGIP  (which stands for Saklolo at Gabay ng Ina at Pamilya) sought to address the problems of violence against women and children.  SAGIP established a 24/7 crisis center which provided victims with emergency shelter, medical, psycho-social and even legal assistance. SAGIP also networked with Muntinlupa’s public schools and the barangays in order to heighten awareness of this social problem and to prevent or mitigate their occurrence.


15 years later, Zonta International  conferred on SAGIP the Service Recognition Award during Zonta’s recent international convention in Orlando, Florida. SAGIP bested 99 other Zonta service projects worldwide!


The article elicited quite a number of comments and queries. But the fundamental questions centered on “why”. Why  do cases of violence against women and children occur in the first place? Why are cases under-reported?  Why are victims still reluctant to come out?


In a recent exclusive on “Imbestigador”,  veteran broadcaster Mike Enriquez reported on the ordeal of a 23 year old who suffered all forms of physical indignities at the hands of her former boyfriend. She managed to escape and her tormentor was eventually brought to justice.  But she is only one of the very few who have managed to get away. How many more like her continue to suffer?


Domestic violence has many forms.  While the  most common are the cases of physical violence, domestic violence has now been broadly defined  to include acts of sexual (marital rape), verbal,  emotional or economic  abuse committed against the partner or other  members of the family or household.


Psychiatrist Toby D. Goldsmith of Emory University Hospital explains what causes domestic violence.


“Domestic violence may start when one partner feels the need to control and dominate the other. Abusers may feel this need to control their partner because of low self-esteem, extreme jealousy, difficulties in regulating anger and other strong emotions, or when they feel inferior to the other partner in education and socioeconomic background. Some men with very traditional beliefs may  think they have the right to control women, and that women aren’t equal to men.”


Dr. Goldsmith further explains:


“Studies suggest that violent behavior often is caused by an interaction of situational and individual factors. That means that abusers learn violent behavior from their family, people in their community and other cultural influences as they grow up. They  may have seen violence often or they may  have  been victims themselves.”


Dr. Goldsmith added: “Children who witness or are the victims of violence may learn to believe that violence is a reasonable way to resolve conflict between people. Boys who learn than women are not to be valued or respected and who see violence directed against women are more likely to abuse women when they grow up. Girls who witness domestic violence in their families of origin are more likely to be victimized by their own husbands.”


Dr. Goldsmith also explained that in many cases alcohol and other chemical substance may aggravate violent behavior.


But why are many cases of domestic violence unreported? Recent international media articles reported the case of a professional football player who has habitually made a punching bag of his partner. The case could have gone unreported had  the last punching episode (which occurred inside an elevator) not been caught on CCTV.


Several studies attribute the reluctance of  abused female partners to “financial or familial dependence on the abusive partner, the tendency to excuse or normalize the partner’s violence with the reasoning that the partner really loves them, and even, self-blaming.”


Studies also disclosed that family members, other that the abused party,  are normally reluctant to report because of fear and shame that results from abuse within families and relationships.  They tend to  treat domestic abuse as “internal family matter”.


All the foregoing underscore the need for more intensive  raising of awareness about this social malaise. All the foregoing underscore the need for intervention by  more groups like SAGIP in more cities and more municipalities in the country.

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