Study: 1 in 3 women across the world experience gender-based abuse

February 26, 2024

Photo courtesy of Gabriela Youth



MANILA – Gender-based violence remains rampant globally, not just in the Philippines but across the world. According to the data from the World Health Organization (WHO), one in three women, or around 736 million, are subjected to abuse.

In the Philippines, one in four Filipino women aged 15-49 has experienced physical, emotional, or sexual violence by their husband or partner, according to a survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority last 2017.

During the pandemic, these cases reached more than 11,000 in the country. It must also be noted that this number may just be the tip of the iceberg, considering that not all victims report their abusers due to fear of retaliation.

One survivor of sexual abuse, Jane (not her real name), blames how the Philippine law remains ineffective in ensuring the protection of women in society.

Silencing women through victim blaming

Jane recalls how it took her two years after the abuse happened before she earned the courage to take legal action against her abuser.

“During that time, I didn’t know how to move forward. I was ashamed. I could not eat, or sleep, and I experienced several nightmares because of what my former partner did,” Jane said.

It was only through her friends’ moral support that she gathered enough strength to approach the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) – but this did not end well.

According to Jane, the bureaucratic process and the authorities’ lack of sensitivity hindered her pursuit of justice.
She said public attorneys even asked her if she was only filing the case to get revenge since her ex-boyfriend already had a new girlfriend at that time. She was also asked to provide other evidence like a medicolegal since the screenshot containing her abuser’s threats and assault are not enough to hold him accountable.

“I’ve lost my will to pursue the case. I even thought at that time, that if only I had enough money, this case would move forward. Sadly, I don’t, that’s why I decided to not pursue legal actions anymore,” Jane said.

Read: SPECIAL REPORT | Why the high court’s ruling is a step backward for rape victims’ fight for justice

As it stands, rape is among the most underreported crimes both here and abroad.

According to the Philippine National Police’s Crime Incident Reporting and Analysis System, the number of rape victims in the Philippines reached 8,460 in 2021. However, about 2,000 cases were only reported per year, based on the data of the Department of Budget and Management Government Procurement Policy Board.

“If rape is reported, it is seldom prosecuted; if prosecuted, the prosecution is rarely pursued in a gender-sensitive manner and often leads to very few convictions, the revictimization of survivors, and high attrition rates, resulting in a normalization of rape, a culture of rape or silence on rape, stigmatization of victims and impunity for perpetrators,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Šimonovi?.

The alarming cases of gender-based violence prompted women and allies across the world to start the One Billion Rising campaign as part of efforts to end the abuse and injustice against women.

Women dance for freedom, end to social injustice

One Billion Rising is the biggest mass action to end violence against women (cisgender, transgender, and those who hold fluid identities that are subject to gender-based violence) in human history.

It was first held in the Philippines in 2013. Since then, OBR has been held every year.

Last February 14, hundreds of women across the country danced for freedom as they called for an end to gender-based repression and social injustices.

Look: Cyclists, activists join One Billion Rising vs violence against women

This year, women’s group Gabriela said there is a need to escalate the call to Rise For Freedom because of the persistent intensification of violence, including rape, hate, exclusion, killing, discrimination, exploitation, abuse, wars, division, occupation, and control over women’s bodies, minds, and resources.

“This year, we commit to ending violence towards women, gender nonconforming and gender expansive people, end racism, understand and dismantle the patriarchy, support indigenous women leadership in their call to protect the biomes and diversity and indigenous lands, refuse the inequality of wealth and of injustice to name a few,” Gabriela added.

Last December, after receiving pressure from women and human rights advocates, the Philippine Senate ratified the ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment, making the Philippines the 37th country in the world to do so.

Despite this, the fight for women’s rights is yet to end.

Gabriela Party-list Representative Arlene Brosas said that more things need to be done to ensure enough safeguards for women within the bounds of law.

“Although we have seen some victories in the past years, violence and injustice against women remain prevalent. Almost two decades since the passing of the Anti-Violence against Women and Children Act of 2004, the data on its effects and effectiveness remain insufficient,” Brosas asserted.

The lawmaker also noted how authorities failed to prosecute violators of the Anti-VAWC law and bring justice to victims.

Jane also echoed Brosas’s sentiment, saying that despite having laws to supposedly protect women like her, changes need to be implemented to ensure that the laws will be effective.

“The truth is, the law is not leaning towards women, especially those abused. The process of achieving justice is always painstaking. Authorities need to be educated more on how to properly handle cases of violence against women and children to prevent their proliferation,” Jane said.

Aside from physical and sexual abuse, women advocates also slam the unequal economic opportunities faced by women across the country. Now that the push for charter change is returning within the government, Brosas is appealing to the public to be vigilant and fight any attempt to exploit the Constitution.

“Amidst lack of jobs, massive contractualization, and low wages, the Marcos administration needs to address more pressing issues, including amending the Safe Spaces Act to ensure the safety of women in workplaces,” Brosas said.

“The public should also be watchful, and fight current efforts to change the Constitution, which will bring further damage to our economy and will hinder our pursuit of genuine land reform and national industrialization,” Brosas ended. (RVO, RTS) (

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