5 #GenderIssues to ask in 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has been hailed by many as a land of equal opportunities for both women and men, but do Filipinos deserve the praise?
The Philippines has several laws aiming to protect women and children. The question, however, is whether such laws bear teeth.
In 2015, the same old issues cropped up: protesters penetrated the annual Pride March, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines spoke against divorce, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions happened, hate crimes went unsolved, and so on.
Will gender equality advocates have something better to look forward to in 2016? Here are 5 issues that still need to be addressed:
1. Who will enact local anti-discrimination laws?
The Philippines, among several other countries worldwide, does not have a national law protecting lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and lesbians (LGBT) from discrimination.
There have been attempts to craft such legislation as early as 1995, however, roadblocks have been plenty. (READ: Long road to an anti-discrimination law)
Such law would protect individuals from being rejected from jobs and schools based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). It would also penalize those who commit hate crimes or any form of violence against LGBTs.
In the absence of a national law, some local government units (LGUs) have taken it upon themselves to implement their own ordinances.
As of 2015, there are 15 LGUs implementing anti-discrimination ordinances, according to the University of the Philippines:
|Angeles City, Pampanga|
|Candon City, Ilocos Sur|
|San Julian, Eastern Samar|
|Barangay Bagbag, Quezon City|
|Barangay Greater Lagro, Quezon City|
|Barangay Pansol, Quezon City|
|Agusan del Norte|
Such efforts are worthy of praise, however, the number proves that much is yet to be done.
In 2016, would more local executives follow suit?
2. Will there be more efforts from media?
In 2015, local television brought us shows like My Husband’s Lover, The Rich Man’s Daughter, and Destiny Rose. The teleseryes featured main characters with varying SOGIs.
Although these shows were far from perfect, some advocates lauded the effort in putting same-sex relationships on primetime.
Will TV networks continue what they have started? But this time, daring to be bolder in its exploration of LGBT issues – such as same-sex couple’s unfair access to housing, insurance, and social security – minus the media stereotypes many Filipinos grew up with.
Such explorations are yet to be seen in mainstream news, film, television, and radio.
Is the Philippine media also capable of promoting more gender awareness through empowered women characters and storylines, exploration of sexual fluidity, and positive representation of SOGI?
3. Who will push for divorce?
Divorce, will the Philippines ever have one?
The issue has always been controversial, with only a few lawmakers showing support amid a sea of priests and 'holy men' expressing dismay.
Different versions of a divorce bill have been, yet they have all remained pending before Congress.
Although growing in public support, as reflected in the latest survey by the Social Weather Station, divorce remains a thorny issue among Filipinos.
Public support for legalization of divorce
Source: 4th quarter 2014 SWS survey
Lawyer Lorna Kapunan is among the few senatorial candidates who are actively supporting the divorce law.
- Lack of parental consent during time of marriage if one or both parties were under 21 years old.
- Mental incapacity.
- Concealed incurable sexually transmitted infection or addiction.
- Consent acquired by force or fraud.
- Permanent incapacity for sexual intercourse.
How about those whose reasons are not within such grounds?
Annulment eats too much time, effort, and money, advocates say, urging the government to simplify the process through divorce.
4. Will violence against women and children (VAWC) be a thing of the past?
The number of VAW cases reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP) has increased by over 500% in the past 16 years. This could either mean that more women are experiencing abuse or that more women are reporting the abuse.
Source: National Statistical Coordination Board, Philippine Commission on Women
In 2015, the story of Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude was closely followed by media and the public. In the end, US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton was found "guilty beyond reasonable doubt" of homicide.
Laude's case is just one of the many VAW cases and hate crimes. Unlike Laude's, many cases go unreported and unresolved.
5. What awaits the Reproductive Health Law?
The RH bill was finally signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III in 2012, after a 15-year struggle led by advocates and lawmakers. But it was only declared constitutional in 2014 after its full implementation got stalled for several months.
Clear results, however, are yet to be seen, some advocates said, because not all local health centers provide contraceptives, complete RH information, and services.
What other #GenderIssues should we look forward to this year? – Rappler.com
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