INT’L WOMEN’S DAY
As young as seven years old, Jewel Benitez was already a witness to domestic violence. What made it more painful then was the fact that the victim was his own mother.
Helpless and powerless, the young Benitez could only cry every time his mother would be beaten by his father.
“Nakita nako akong mama nga abusohon siya sa akong papa. Nakita gyud nako ang kapait sa akong inahan,” the 18-year-old said. (I saw how my father abused my mother. I also saw the pain my mother had suffered from that experience.)
“Sa akong na-experience, naghinaot ko nga dili to mahitabo sa lain. Kay kon wala ang mga kababayen-an, wala pud mi mga kabatan-onan,” he added. (I hope the abuses will not happen to others. No one should ever be abused especially women because without them, we won’t be here.)
Benitez, a member of Forge Inc., was among the at least 150 individuals from a coalition of cause-oriented groups who joined yesterday’s march from P. del Rosario Street to Colon Street to celebrate International Women’s Day.
“We would like to emphasize that violence and abuses remain as the biggest threat to women,” said Emalyn Aliviano, coordinator of Kaisa Ka and spokesperson of Kilusan Cebu.
In a talk with reporters, Aliviano expressed concern over President Rodrigo Duterte’s “misogynistic” style.
“We are very worried of the misogynist culture nga gipaduso ni (being pushed by) Duterte. Wala magduha-duha sa pagtamak ug pagyaga-yaga sa mga kababayen-an (He does not hesitate to undermine women),” she said.
She added that women play an important role in the society.
“Women should be taken care of by society because of the fragility of our reproductive role. But it does not mean nga i-undermine ang atong productive capacity and productive right,” Aliviano stressed.
Aliviano also called on the President to sign the Expanded Maternity Leave bill authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros which seeks to extend the maternity leave from one month to at least four months with pay.
“We challenge him. If he does love the Filipino women and if he is true to serving for genuine change, ipaduso ni niya (He should push for this),” she said, adding that yesterday’s celebration is also for International Working Women’s Day.
Respect Albasin’s choice
Meanwhile, Aliviano said that society must learn to respect the choices of young people when asked about the arrest of suspected communist rebel Myles Albasin.
She said that Albasin, who was the secretary general of Anakbayan Cebu, has all the right to choose how to live her life. Aliviano also stressed that Albasin’s parents should never be blamed for the choices of the UP alumna.
“We should respect that. We all have choices,” she said.
As part of the celebration of Women’s Month, the coalition will also conduct learning sessions every Saturday of this month to tackle issues such as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law and the Expanded Maternity Leave.
Groups which joined yesterday’s rally include Akbayan Women, Forge Inc., Lihok Filipina, Kaabag sa Sugbo, Kaisa Ka, Kilusan, Partido Manggagawa, Sentro, Youth for Nationalism and Democracy, Pagtambayayong Foundation, Pangisda and League of Urban Poor in Action (Lupa). They are under the Cebu Citizens Assembly coalition.