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How criminal is it to commit domestic violence against women?

It’s a violation of R.A. 9262, also known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act. It protects women and their children from all forms of abuse—physical, sexual, psychological harm or economic abuse including threats of such acts. The law was enacted on March 8, 2004.

Are married women the only ones protected by the law?
R.A. 9262 doesn’t just apply to married couples. It applies to every couple under the sun. It doesn’t matter whether you’re just live-in partners, or you just have a common child, the law applies to all women. So whether it’s your long-time girlfriend, or that hot chick you picked up at the bar, you simply do not have the right to hurt her, in the manners mentioned above. Lesbian relationships are covered as well, although the greater issue here is that of the violent acts of men against women.

What are the most common types of reported VAW (violence against women) cases?
In 2005, police and social welfare records show that battering and rape were the most prevalent. Thirty-three percent of all reported police cases were due to battering, while 17.2 percent accounted for rape. The same trend is evident now based on the social welfare department’s given numbers. Out of a total of 5,389 cases reported, 28.8 percent were due to battering while 6.8 percent were because of rape.

How stiff are the penalties?
Guilty parties may spend up to 16 years behind bars and will have to pay a fine of P100,000 but not more than P300,000, aside from moral and exemplary damages. The perpetrator must also undergo psychological or psychiatric treatments to prevent the repetition of the violating acts.

Prior to RA 9262, were there other laws that protected women from violent acts?
The other laws that have been enacted to curb domestic violence are the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, the Anti-Rape Act of 1997, Rape Victims Assistance Act (1998), an act penalizing matching of Filipino mail order brides (1998), and Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003.

How effective have the RA 9262 and the other laws been in deterring domestic violence?
Ever since the passage of RA 9262, more women have come out to report acts of violence done on them by their partners. The number of those who filed for annulment due to abuse has also increased.

In 1996, 1,100 VAW (Violence against women) cases were reported to police authority—a number which ballooned to 10,345 in 2001. And after R.A. 9262 was enacted in 2004, cases of violence against women plummeted from 10,345 in 2004 to just 6,505 in 2005.


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WORDS: GELO GONZALES
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