NAPC Chief: Women in poverty more likely to have experienced domestic violence

Despite the gains of more than a century of struggle, violence against women persists across all income classes but more so among poor women, said National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Liza Maza.

Citing data from the recent 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Maza said the incidence of violence against women is more prevalent among low-income families than in higher-income households.

Maza said this link between low household income and violence against women underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to addressing the historical oppression of women. “We cannot ignore the socioeconomic context within which women suffer. To put an end to violence against women, we must put an end to the structural conditions that make women vulnerable and powerless,” the women’s rights leader explained.

In January, the NAPC launched a new anti-poverty policy framework that pushes for a comprehensive package of reforms that would place anti-poverty policy at the crux of all government policies, including those related to women’s rights and welfare.

Maza said the link between poverty and violence against women may also be seen in the geographic incidence of spousal violence. To be released in full in September, the 2017 NDHS report also reveals that incidence rates of spousal violence are high in regions where poverty incidence rates are also high, such as Caraga (30.8 percent poverty incidence), SOCCSKSARGEN (30.5), and Eastern Visayas (30.7). (See map, attached file.)

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) appears to be an exception, where poverty incidence at 48.2 percent is the highest among all regions. Women in ARMM who have experienced any form of spousal violence is at 6.7 percent, though cases of domestic violence in the region may be underreported.

Conducted by the PSA in 2017, the survey on violence against women involved a total of 11,558 ever-married Filipino women nationwide.

“Violence against women plays a crucial role in the vicious cycle of economic underdevelopment and feudal patriarchal social relations in Philippine society. Women empowerment requires the empowerment of the poor to break free from the cycle of poverty,” said Maza.

Many studies have shown that violence against women prevents women from meaningfully contributing to economic development and that economic underdevelopment in turn reproduces conditions that further deny women of political and economic power, the secretary said.

“It is time to make violence against women a problem that we all need to address together and with the recognition that it is a problem that is intrinsically linked to the long-standing problem of poverty and economic underdevelopment,” Maza said.

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