CEBU -- The husband and four-year-old son of a woman who was allegedly gang-raped in the City of Naga earlier this week have sought refuge with the Cebu Capitol.
Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale mentioned this as one of the forms of assistance the Cebu Provincial Women’s Commission (PWC) has extended, when she addressed the 15th Cebu Women’s Congress yesterday.
The woman, who is five months pregnant, was allegedly raped by seven men who barged into her home at 10 p.m. last Sunday, while her husband was at work in a construction site.
The vice governor said that the couple’s four-year-old child saw the assault.
Police arrested Leonardo Labrado, 38, and his 26-year-old brother Nelson the next day, after the woman identified them.
Magpale said that the authorities are getting the supplemental affidavit from the husband to help build up the case. While her husband and child stay in a Capitol property, the woman has been placed in a safe house.
The vice governor mentioned the case as part of her report during the Women’s Congress, where she said that since last year’s assembly, the PWC has filed 152 complaints.
The commission has also assisted at 1,424 victims of sexual abuse, and Magpale said they were given psychological, social, medical and legal services.
Another batch of 694 physical abuse victims also received medical services.
As a result of the PWC’s work, at least eight suspects are now detained and waiting for the court to resolve their cases. Two foreigners have been convicted, while one was deported. Two others were charged, but released on bail.
But one setback in helping women who are battered is that they find it difficult to break the cycle of violence, said Rep. Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo (Camarines Sur), who delivered the keynote speech.
Husbands who beat up their wives show remorse during a second honeymoon phase, when their anger has died down, yet this doesn’t last and another incident of abuse often follows.
Robredo told the more than 500 women present that she believes “economic empowerment” remains the widest path to empowering more women, especially those who depend financially on their partners, so they can break free.
In her report, Vice Governor Magpale said that the PWC has distributed 41 sewing machines to eight local government units. They provided dress-making training in Samboan and Oslob, in coordination with Rep. Willy Caminero (Cebu Province, second district).
They also organized soap-making and meat-processing training sessions in some barangays in Talisay City, Barili, Alegria, Malabuyoc, Samboan and Cordova.
In an interview, Magpale also cited the success of the Bugasan sa Kababayen-an project, which has grown from 34 members when it was launched in December 2010, to 43 members with the inclusion of nine women’s associations from different local governments.
Bugasan sa Kababayen-an is a livelihood project, which provides 10 sacks of rice (worth P12,500) to each women’s group for them to start a rice retail business.
One of the eight Millennium Development Goals was for girls and women to have equal access to all levels of education “no later than 2015.” Part of the goal of empowering women was to encourage more to seek public office, address gender inequality in schools and workplaces, and end violence against women.