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Protection of Negrense women highlighted in 18-day campaign

            Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson Tuesday renewed the provincial government’s commitment to protect women’s rights as Negros Occidental kicked off the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW).

            “I have said in my previous messages that under my watch, Negrense women will always have a fighting chance and shall be treated without prejudice. Society can never be really progressive until the rights of women are rightfully accorded the import and value it deserves,” Lacson said in his message during the opening rites held at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City.

            He urged the mayors of all 19 municipalities and 12 cities of Negros Occidental to take part in the 18-day campaign – from Nov. 25 to Dec. 12 – through various activities.

            These include the hanging of streamers, tying of orange ribbons around the public plaza, use of orange ribbons by local government employees, supporting the activities of the Local and Provincial Council for Women, and joining the “Orange Your Icon For 18 Days” initiative.

            The provincial Capitol building will be lighted orange to signify that the province is one with the international movement to end VAW, Lacson said.

            During the program, members of the Provincial Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI), chaired by lawyer Julie Ann Bedrio, took their oaths before the governor.

            Previously, the Capitol’s CODI was chaired by a male, but since Republic Act 11313, or the Safe Spaces Act, provides that it must be headed by a woman, a female chair was appointed to head the body this time.

            “Change does not happen overnight thus, the key is to persevere, to persist – to take every step necessary to achieve the empowerment, justice, and equity each and every woman deserves. This coming 18 days, let us color the world orange and stand for a brighter future for the victims and survivors of VAW,” Lacson said.

            In a video message, Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, and Family Relations, called on everyone not to ignore the abuses against women, which became more evident during the lockdown amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.

            According to the Philippine Commission on Women, the 2020 campaign “comes at a time when the country is reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic that aggravated underlying gender issues and affected marginalized and vulnerable sectors”.

            “Women may experience different forms of VAW while locked down in their homes with the perpetrators, with tension rising from uncertainties in health, security, and economy creating a perfect storm,” it added.

            Also, the implementation of varying community quarantine measures “hindered victims to seek help, report the abuse, and/or escape their perpetrators due to the suspension of public transportation, strict orders to stay home, and limited issuance of quarantine passes”.

            Given these circumstances, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the challenge of strengthening the functionality of barangay VAW desks as the first line of response for survivors, the PCW added.             The campaign’s recurring theme is “VAW-free community starts with Me”.*PNA

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