20th Year Anniversary of the Anti-Violence against Women and Their Children Act

For the past two decades, women have taken recourse in Republic Act No. 9262, also known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act, in safeguarding their rights against abuses from intimate partners. This landmark legislation was signed into law on March 8, 2004, by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo following the harmonization of two bills on domestic violence and abuse against women in intimate partner relationships. Its enactment is a product of almost a decade of relentless advocacy and lobbying by women advocates, policymakers, other stakeholders, and the women victim-survivors themselves.

The Anti-VAWC Act is the only legislation in place that provides a framework for the prosecution of abuses committed against women by their intimate partners. The provisions of the Act are sound and liberally construed in favor of women, yet it is important to ensure that it is also able to adapt to emerging trends and forms of violence. Twenty years in, it is crucial to reflect on whether the law is still responsive to the needs of victim-survivors and the realities of service delivery vis-a-vis the present socio-economic landscape.

Despite its inherent limitations, the Anti-VAWC Act has been instrumental in making remarkable progress in addressing violence against women in the country. Mechanisms for implementation have been set in place, such as the creation of the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their Children (IACVAWC), Committees Against Trafficking and VAWC at the subnational and local level, the establishment of Barangay VAW Desks, Women and Children Protection Desks in police stations, Women and Children Protection Units in DOH-retained hospitals, shelters for women victim-survivors, and other related service institutions.

Primary prevention programs have also been implemented for many years, including anti-VAWC advocacy through the observance of the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW. This includes a response system covering multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) that address the protective, medical, psychosocial, and legal needs of victims. There are also hotlines where women victim-survivors could reach out for immediate assistance such as the Aleng Pulis Hotline managed by the Women and Children Protection Center of the Philippine National Police and the 911 Hotline operated by the National Emergency 911 Commission. Likewise, standards and protocols for improving service delivery have also been put in place. These efforts contributed to increasing the help-seeking behavior of women victims as supported by the results of the 2022 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).

Currently, the IACVAWC together with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), is spearheading an assessment of the implementation of R.A. 9262. It examines the impact or extent by which the law has addressed violence against women after its enactment in 2004. The assessment also covers the review of efforts and interventions of duty bearers at the national, subnational, and local levels to draw highlights of accomplishments, good practices, challenges, and lessons learned in implementation. Findings will not only serve as policy inputs to the proposed amendments to the law, but will also inform the development of the National Action Plan to End VAW (NAP-EVAW), especially for the development of stronger measures for prevention, response, monitoring, and evaluation.

The 20th anniversary of the Anti-VAWC Act is not only a milestone for all the progress that has been made but is also a reminder that the work is not yet done. There are still gaps and challenges that must be addressed at the policy and program levels. The IACVAWC calls on all government partners, the private sector, and the general public to work together to ensure that the rights of women against intimate partner violence are emphasized and protected.

Together, let us stand united for a #VAWfreePH.


For more information:

PCW-IACVAWC Secretariat
(02) 89735-1654 loc. 123