Today as we celebrate the “National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children”, we recommit to respect and protect the human rights of every woman and every child.
Violence against women and children is often commonly understood as limited only to domestic violence but, in reality, it is an egregious and horrible human rights violation that happens almost anywhere – in schools, work places, recreation areas, and digital platforms. There remains innumerable cases of child pornography, online prostitution, bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. In specific contexts such as poverty, conflict, and humanitarian crisis, women and children even suffer more tragically. The universe of victims includes even the highly educated women, or those born to closely secured lives. That one (1) in three (3) women can experience physical or sexual violence is proof about the monstrosity and enormity of this crime.
Now more than ever, it is vital for each and every one of us to stand up for the right of every woman and child to equality and protection. We must be conscious to not let prejudices and negative gender stereotypes chip away at our rightful places in the society. We must challenge narrow-minded and misogynistic beliefs that fortify glass ceilings that leave women and children short in access to rights and entitlements such as healthcare, education, housing and adequate standard of living. From where I am this November 25, at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police, I join the entire Filipino nation and my fellow human rights defenders around the world in the solemn but proud observance of this most important occasion. Let us all work – together and urgently – to make this world a safer and better place for all the women and children.