Women’s organization GABRIELA joined the multi-sectoral protest action on International Human Rights Day to denounce the Aquino government’s human rights violations, especially against women.
GABRIELA highlighted recent rape cases involving members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that were brought to their attention by the victims themselves. Since Pres. Aquino came to office, GABRIELA documented at least 11 verified cases of military sexual abuse, and four others which are still for verification. Eight out of these 11 cases involved minors. In several cases, the victims were reportedly drugged resulting to loss of memory of the actual abuse. In at least two cases, the victims suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. More military sexual abuse cases remain unreported.
GABRIELA called for an end to the impunity of human rights violations such as military sexual abuse. “These men in uniform always get away with their crimes, especially since they are able to wield power and influence over the community where their victims live. They rarely get prosecuted and in many cases use money and intimidation to silence their victims. Impunity thus prevails and the Aquino government is doing nothing to end this,”
Meanwhile, women leaders in the House of Representatives joined the international community in expressing support for the families of the young girls abducted by Boko Haram in Chibok town in Borno, Nigeria, appealing for their safe and immediate release.
The House is expected to adopt House Resolution 1725 following endorsement by the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality from the original bill of lawmakers including Gabriela representatives Luzviminda C. Ilagan and Emmi A. De Jesus.
The women lawmakers pointed out that the Philippines is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which promotes equal opportunity and access to education for women and girls.
The Resolution stressed that the Philippine Government is saddened by the fact that, contrary to the commitments in the CEDAW, women and girls, like those abducted on April 14, do not have freedom to pursue education without being subjected to violence and discrimination.
As recalled in the HR 1725, on the night of April 14, 2014, the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria was attacked by a group of militants who pretended to be guards and took away young girls in trucks.
The girls are only between 16 and 18 years old, the lawmakers noted. The abduction is thought to have been perpetrated by the extremist Muslim group, “Boko Haram”, which if translated in the ‘Hausa’ language means “Western education is a sin.”
The Boko Haram is reportedly opposed to the education of women and girls, and those kidnapped in the past have been used as cooks and sex slaves. The girls abducted last April are reportedly being auctioned off at $12 each to become wives of militants.###