BLAMING the perpetrator of gender-based violence instead of the survivor, establishing a referral network and collective efforts to stop the violence against women were among the key takeaways during the seminar-workshop organized by the Zonta Club of Cebu 2 at the Bai Hotel in Mandaue City on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022.

Female police officers from the Women and Children Protection Unit (WCPU) of the Philippine National Police in different cities and municipalities of Central Visayas participated in the activity dubbed “Strengthening PNP WCPU through Gender-Responsive Delivery of Service to VAWC [Violence Against Women and their Children] Survivors.”

The seminar-workshop was conducted by lawyer Myles Gonzales-Esquivel, executive director of Miriam College-Child Rights Advocacy Center and legal consultant of Child Protection Unit-Philippine General Hospital. She is also a member of the Philippine Commission on Women.

The goal of the workshop was to equip service providers and frontliners with techniques to provide gender-responsive delivery of services. Gender-responsive service providers practice continuum care, respect, informed consent, non-judgmental attitude and gender-fair language.

People should not engage in victim-blaming, which is a devaluing act that occurs when the victim or victims of a crime or an accident is held responsible, in whole or in part, for the crimes that have been committed against them, Esquivel emphasized during the seminar-workshop.

“It is important to keep in mind that a person who has been affected by gender-based violence is never responsible for the perpetrator’s action. The responsibility and the accountability should be given to the perpetrator of violence and not to the victim-survivor,” Esquivel said.

Gender-based violence and VAWC persist because of inadequate economic resources, which creates patterns of violence and poverty among women and people in the LGBT+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender/transsexual people] community. When unemployment and poverty affect men, this can also cause them to assert their masculinity through violent means, according to Esquivel.

Esquivel further said that gender-based violence is an issue involving patriarchy, and relations of power and is based on a feeling of male superiority and dominance, with an intention to relegate the female to a subordinate role at home, at school and at work, in the community or in society as a whole.

During the workshop, the participants were divided into groups to identify areas for improvement, and come up with corresponding recommendations on how to ensure gender-responsive and socially-inclusive services to survivors of gender-based violence and VAWC.

The participants were advised by Esquivel that since resources are limited for VAWC victims/survivors, they must set up a referral network involving other agencies for a more coordinated and cost-effective response to violence.