The Supreme Court today renewed its call and commitment to put an end to violence and all forms of discrimination against women.
In support of the 2022 One Billion Rising Global Campaign: Rise for the Bodies of All Women, Girls and the Earth, the Court also kicked off its online program of activities supporting this international event.
In his message, Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo underscored the Court’s commitment “to ensure a Violence Against Women-Free environment in every single court and office in the Judiciary.”
The Chief Justice lamented that violence against women has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and placed women in a more distressful and vulnerable situation. Noting that the United Nations itself has dubbed violence against women as a “shadow pandemic,” the Chief Justice noted that some women found themselves in lockdown with their abusers and with no opportunity to access help.
He observed that gender-based violence has evolved with the advent of technologies as “abusers exploit new technologies, like mobile applications, as avenues for exerting their power over their victims.
“Truly, we cannot close our eyes and pretend that this is not happening. The right of women (be they cisgender, transgender, or those who hold fluid identities) to security, dignity, equality, and justice must be respected. Stopping this kind of violence, thus, cannot take a back seat, even during the time of the pandemic,” said Chief Justice Gesmundo.
“We, in the Judiciary, are not mere by-standers in this fight against all forms of violence against women. Even at the height of the pandemic, we have continued to provide access to courts to those who need it most by taking advantage of current available technology. We have also exhorted our courts to give primacy to cases involving women and children, particularly those with applications for protection orders. Within the court, we have reinforced the urgent need to use gender-fair language as a tool to combat any implicit form of discrimination. Truly, we are meeting the challenges of delivering justice to this vulnerable sector even during these difficult times.”
The Chief Justice noted that it was not a coincidence that the global event is celebrated on Valentine’s Day, a day of love, passion, and commitment, which are the rudiments of activism and advocacy. He remarked that “activism and advocacy see the injustices in our midst and call our attention to them so we may become aware and involved in finding solutions to correct them.”
Justice Amy C. Lazaro-Javier and Justice Henri Jean Paul B. Inting, Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of the SC Committee on Gender
Responsiveness in the Judiciary, respectively, echoed the Chief Justice’s sentiments.
Justice Lazaro-Javier rallied everyone to rise for women and for their dignity, rights, freedoms, and bodies. She said: “Let us shout in unison, women’s bodies deserve nothing but abiding respect. Mga kababaihan, tumindig at manindigan!
Justice Lazaro-Javier also stressed that “for us to be truly become champions of ending violence against women, we must remind ourselves of the incomparable qualities of a woman’s body.”
Highlighting the attributes of a woman, Justice Lazaro-Javier said that a woman’s body is precious, it being “the only other physical body to which a person will have ever been connected by flesh and blood. Even after childbirth, a child continues to be linked to the mother through the modest act of breastfeeding.” She also added that a woman’s body gives life as it “nurtures and sustains. It protects and endows.”
Justice Lazaro-Javier pointed out that some of our jurisprudence contain passages describing women as the weaker sex, emphasizing though that the Court “now fortunately considers such statements as inaccurate.”
She further said that a woman’s body is a triumph, stressing that despite adversity, women thrive. “Even when a woman reaches an age when she can celebrate having grandchildren, she is still expected to take care of the entire family. Every wrinkle and furrowed brow on our lolas’ faces speak of their silent dignity and deserve respect,” she added
Justice Lazaro-Javier also paid tribute to all the working women who have demonstrated their formidable strength by. She said that they have to work and earn a living for the family and, at the same time, have to do most of the chores at home.
She said that it was “unfortunate that no matter how modern our societies and economies are, we omit to attach any significant economic value to child-rearing. The COVID-19 pandemic has even made the inequality more acute as working women now must perform both professional and domestic duties within the same locus.”
“The courage women must muster is a testament to the tenacity of women’s bodies. To say that women are the weaker sex is flawed and offensive,” expressed Justice Lazaro-Javier.
For his part, Justice Inting said: “We belong to one family. We are brothers and sisters. Together, let us end gender-based violence.”
During the virtual kick-off of online programs, 2021 Ms. Universe Philippines Beatrice Luigi Gomez also gave a message to all women, who she said have that innate ability to survive and push forward.
“I implore you to keep fighting the good fight because you are a woman of strength…of ambition…of perseverance,” said Gomez. “You are a woman of power. We yield strength. And I wish for everyone to draw on that strength to speak up against violence and to push the goal of this movement. Stronger together, one billion rising. Let us all create joy, hope, and transformation for our generation of women and the generations ahead.”
The Court’s online programs in support of the One Billion Rising Global Campaign include, among others, seminars on timely topics such as Cyberviolence Against Women and Girls and Bodily Autonomy and Integrity: My Body, My Choice. There will be also be an online screening of Vagina Monologues, a play by Eve Ensler that explores consensual and nonconsensual sexual experience, body image, genital mutilation, direct and indirect encounters with reproduction, vaginal care, menstrual periods, prostitution, and several other topics through the eyes of women with various ages, races, sexualities, and other differences. ###