Monday, June 24, 2024

Orange: A Future Free From Violence

Remember the eight colors of the rainbow? What do they symbolize or represent? Red could mean love, yellow could mean happiness, or blue could mean sadness. What about orange? Orange symbolizes a lot of things — sunshine, warmth, or vitality. But every November 25th, the color orange represents something more vibrant than all three descriptions combined; it symbolizes a brighter future, free from violence against women. On November 25, the color orange becomes a symbol of unity all over the world. Orange becomes hope — and for 16 days, it shines brightest over all the other colors of the rainbow.

Why should Filipinos care though? Specifically-speaking, the Philippines has been among the world’s most gender-fair countries since 2006. Moreover, according to the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report in 2014, the country ranked 9th globally and 1st in Asia in terms of women’s participation in economy, education, health, and political empowerment — definitely something Filipinos should be proud of.Since 1999, November 25th is celebrated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in remembrance of the assassination of the three Mirabal sisters who fought against the Dominican Republic dictator, Rafael Trujillo. Until then, “orange the world” has been an annual campaign led by United Nations (UN) to recognize the strength of women, to promote gender equality, to raise public awareness of violence against women, and to stop their victimization. The 25th isn’t just a single day though — it marks the beginning of the 16 days of activism against violence against women, which culminates on Human Rights Day on December 10. According to UN, the days are meant to link gender violence with human rights to emphasize that violence against women is the worst form of violation of their human rights.

However, despite being a seemingly woman-friendly country, there have been about 24,000 violence against women cases reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP) in 2013 alone — most common reports being a violation of Republic Act 9262  or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004, physical injuries, and rape. In addition, the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey states that one in five Filipino women ages 15 to 49 has experienced physical violence. Globally, UN claims that one in three women has experienced physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. One in three women has been abused, hurt, and taken for granted. One…in three. That could be anyone. Anywhere.

“Truth is, even our closest of friends and loved ones may be experiencing this…,” said Arthel Tagnipez, a Silliman graduate and violence against women advocate. “…And more often than not, we let it slip but that does more damage than you think,” she added. In fact, many ignore the issue by accepting the common reality of it all when it really should not be the case. Many victims remain silent, too, “simply because they’re ashamed or that they feel they can control the matter by not sharing their experiences,” Tagnipez also said.

Mariel Esther Avila, a senior psychology student in Silliman University and a violence against women advocate said that violating women’s human rights does not only destroy the individuals but also their families and communities. “It hurts me seeing my fellow ladies not experiencing the kind of respect I grew up with,” she added.

Why don’t these victims get the respect they rightfully deserve anyway? Rooted in gender inequality, violence against women is linked to societal norms and traditions that dictate people to think men are the leaders, the dominant ones in society, while women are nurturers, the subordinate ones.

Isn’t it quite ironic, then, that women are common targets of violence yet they are the ones whom men, children, or the elderly rely on for comfort, healing, or guidance? And then, after suffering its brutality, these victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety. Thus, resulting to a world where they feel most alone.

The Philippines might have almost closed the gender gap but to totally eradicate violence against women is still a far cry.

How do we help eliminate violence against women, then? Perhaps, by educating men, said Hope Tinambacan, a Silliman graduate and the Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE) KASAMA project coordinator. “Traditional masculinity is one big reason why there’s violence against women. Therefore, we must teach our men to be more responsible and understand the history of Filipino’s concept of masculinity and turn it into a positive one. While we are empowering our women, we must also organize groups of men who would set as role models of positive masculinity. Our men must take part in this movement,” Hope added.

For Prof. Bing Valbuena, head of the Psychology Department in Silliman and a women’s rights advocate, to eliminate violence against women, education really is key. “I will continue teaching my students what they need to know about violence against women, equip them with skills as an advocate of women’s rights, and most importantly, help create a community that nurtures love and care for one another,” she said.

Although violence against women gravely persists to be a global pandemic, it can be prevented. There may be no cure or vaccine for it but with an informed and educated society, there can be peace, unity, and equality. Thus, on November 25, unite and “orange the world.” Orange your profile pictures, your wallpapers, or your Instagram feed to stand up for every woman you know — your sister, your mother, your best friend, or your teacher. Fight against women’s violence and be their symbol of hope  — and for 16 days, shine as bright as orange.~

By Alissa Z. Lacson


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest articles