Violence Against Women (VAW), is one of the country’s pervasive social problem. It is deemed closely linked with the unequal power relationship between men and women, otherwise known as “gender-based” violence. It is said that it is a form of men’s expression of controlling women to retain power.

Under Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 20014, VAW is described as any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is a 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, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering economic abuse, including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

This 2016, the 18-day Campaign to End VAW has the theme “VAW-free community starts with me”. This campaign aims to individualize and make the people “own” the campaign. It also has a positive advocacy messaging by giving emphasis on everyone’s commitment and contribution in ending VAW, and a collaborative pursuit of the common vision of a VAW-free community.

From January to September 2016, 27,403 cases of violation of RA 9262 were documented; only 6 out of 100 women reported having experienced sexual violence, ages 15 to 49, but only 3 of 10 sought help to stop the violence.

For a VAW-free community, every woman should empower themselves. Know the rights and available courses of action in case these rights are violated. Women should speak out and report to the authorities in case their rights are violated and encourage others to fight for their rights.