Service providers train in handling women, children abuse cases
The various facets of handling cases on women and children abuse are challenging, and service providers should have continuing professional development training to face up to the difficult job.
Based on the latest Social Weather Stations survey on domestic violence on a national scale, nine percent or about 2.16 million Filipino women 18 years old or above reported having experienced physical abuse mainly by their husbands, partners or boyfriends.
More men (12%) of the respondents admitted having physically harmed someone usually their wives, partners or girlfriends, according to Dr Marietta Dela Cruz, a gynecologist and a member of the Benguet General Hospital – Women and Children Protection Unit (BeGH-WCPU).
In Benguet province, the 2018 WCPU report indicated that cases of both women and children abuse totaled 214 of which a greater majority (88%) were sexually abused while more than half (58%) also suffered other forms of physically abuse. More than half (56%) of the victims were less than 18 years old.
There were more male abusers, the report showed. More than three-fourths (76%) were 18 years old and above while 19% were less than 18 years old.
Dr. Marjorie Rebujio shared that abuse cases of women and children were accommodated since 2010 when the BeGH-WCPU started to operate.
Abuse and violence defined
Child abuse refers to the maltreatment, whether habitual or not of a child. It is the infliction of physical or psychological injury through cruelty or neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation of a child.
Sexual abuse includes the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a child to engage in, or assist another person to engage in, sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct or the molestation, prostitution, or incest with children.
Violence on women takes a number of forms which may be physical, social, economic, and emotional or psychological. On children, these may be neurological/medical, cognitive/intellectual, social/behavioral, and psychological/emotional.
De la Cruz said violence is a challenge which entails high costs as it causes a financial burden coupled with other non-measurable costs. It becomes burdensome due to the disability-adjusted life years (DALY) of the abuse.
DALY as defined by the World Health Organization is the sum of years of potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability
Signs of abuse
Dr. Mary Jane Carrido, a pediatrician and co-chair of the WCPU, warned parents to be watchful on what their children access over the internet particularly pornographic materials or intimate shows which they may be curious to imitate.
Aside from pregnancy, among the signs she mentioned in recognizing abuse among children are sexually transmitted infection, suicidal behaviors, and somatic illness or a form of mental illness that causes one or more bodily symptoms including pain.
In handling acute cases of abuse, Carrido said one of the problems encountered is the establishment of physical manifestations which could no longer be captured if not seen within 72 hours. If the prescribed period has lapsed, manifestations are no longer visible as healing already takes place, she said.
Among the reasons for the gap may be due to distance to service providers, lack of service providers or delayed reporting of families of victims or the victims themselves.
Enhanced training for service providers
The provincial government through the BeGH-WCPU recently gathered health workers, social workers and the police from various municipalities in the province for a two-day enhanced training to equip them with the necessary skills in recognizing, recording, reporting, and referring cases of abuse on women and children.
With medical and social workers serving as lecturers, they briefed the participants on laws on violence against women and children (VAWC) and other pertinent laws.
The participants were taught history taking and gathering of relevant and accurate data, performing of physical examination, determining necessary diagnostic tests, formulating treatment and management plans, coaching of clients and their support persons or families on effective rehabilitation and therapy, accomplishing the standardized documentations in handling the case, and referring to appropriate offices and professionals.
They were also coached on communicating effectively to clients like establishing rapport, explaining the management plan to the clients and their support persons, laymanizing findings and recommendations, developing effective information and education communication resources, and submitting comprehensive documents as required by the WCPU and other agencies.
Assistant Prosecutor Benedict Pataras also briefed the participants on the legal framework for women and children and the important laws on Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) such as Republic Act 7610 or Child Abuse law, RA 9231 or Child Labor law, RA 9262 or the VAWC law, RA 8353 or the New Rape law, RA 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment law, among others.
He shared that of the thousands of cases filed from 2004 to 2019, only a few prospered in the conviction of perpetrators for those who pursued their cases. The reasons for the low turn-out, he said, were due mostly to withdrawal and dismissal of cases for non-appearance in court.
Participants were also briefed on testifying in court, how to do safety and risk assessment of children, the holistic approach of healing and rehabilitation through a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) and the protocol on the management of cases which includes the monitoring of the progress of cases.
Apart from the medical workers, social workers and the police, the MDT also includes other institutions that the victim could be referred to for psychological, economic and other needs, said social worker Marissa Badongen. **JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet