Utzurrum: Zonta Cebu 2 promotes creating safe cities

A most timely webinar on “Creating Safe Cities” was presented recently by the Zonta Club of Cebu 2, which focused on women subjected to gender-based sexual violence.

This was one in a series of webinars mounted during the celebration of “18 Days Campaign to End Violence Against Women and Children.”

In her keynote message during the webinar, Dr. Rhodora Bucoy said there is an urgent need for everyone to join this campaign not only in the country but throughout the world. In spite of the many laws on gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women and children (VAWC) by the government, these remain areas of utmost concern, based on a review.

Bucoy went on to say that there must be a continuing effort to reform the remaining discriminatory laws and in their place, enact new laws that ensure equality and empowerment of women as stipulated in the United Nations’ Social Development Goal 5: Violence against women (VAW) is a human rights violation. This means zeroing our efforts by working with judges, police and men’s and women’s organizations and youth groups to dismantle stereotypes.

Advocacy efforts should also support services for survivors of violence, including safe spaces and psychological counseling. These attacks have devastating consequences on victims/survivors.

According to Bucoy, anti-VAWC campaigns must start by combating the culture of machismo, which continues to persist. In our desire to fully flush out VAWC from our communities, men and women need to fight against this vicious culture, which negates what we have gained so far.

Based on the National Demographic and Health Survey of 2017, VAW statistics show that 20 percent of women have experienced emotional violence from their partners while 14 percent have gone through physical violence, and five percent, sexual violence. Global VAW statistics have likewise shown that 71 percent of all human trafficking victims are women and girls, and of these, three out of four, are sexually exploited.

In the same webinar, women advocates against VAWC/GBV from various sectors like media/journalism, law and governance, theatre arts, beauty and entertainment, shared their brush with VAWC/GBV cases. “Share My Story” storytellers were Andi Matheu, former Miss Earth Karla Henry-Ammann, Charlene Virlouvet, lawyer Jennifer Atienza, and from the LGBTQ corner, Rain Villagonzalo.

Once more, toasts to Zonta Cebu 2 for another round of success!