Raising consciousness on abuses against women and vulnerable adults is imperative to its prevention, if not, total eradication. This was the consensus of the men and women of the Diocese of Novaliches who attended the Diocesan Orientation on “Abuses of Women and Vulnerable Adults in the Church Context” held last April 15, 2016 at the Palace of the Rock, St. Peter Parish Shrine of Leaders along Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City. This was shown in their reports made during the conclusion of this gathering conducted by the Diocese’s Pastoral Care for Children and Vulnerable Adults (PCCVA).
“Raising consciousness especially on the dignity of a person is a way to protect women and vulnerable adults from abuse,” said Merian Aldea, a development worker and women and gender specialist from the Salvatorian Pastoral Care Council (SPCC), who facilitated the orientation.
Concrete programs and services, she added, must be undertaken to prevent or minimize abuses. Such services may include orientation on laws and ordinances, the formation of advocates as well as the setting up of desks for women, vulnerable adults and children in strategic places in the barangay or parish.
Aldea began the orientation by inviting comments regarding the latest Quezon City ordinance on catcalling and sexual harassment. A flurry of opinions ensued leading to a lively discussion on the pros and cons of the ordinance. More interesting was the participants’ basic rundown on the differences between man and woman, an indication that both think differently with corresponding biases or mindsets towards each other.
In the course of the discussions, she concluded that there should be “a paradigm shift on beliefs, conditionings and perspectives brought by society.” She cited the strong patriarchal mentality in the Filipino culture as a strong contributor to abuse. Effects of such mentality include inequality, control, intimidation, superiority and privilege and alienation.
Also discussed in the orientation are the kinds of abuse, including those commonly known like physical, sexual and psychological, to the less discussed, like economic and spiritual.
As a culminating activity, the participants were grouped according to their vicariates to draw up a program that will tackle abuse at its preventive stage as well as before, during and after its perpetration. The other vicariates that already have a program in place were asked to report on existing services and their evaluation.
The Vicariate of Good Shepherd announced that they have succeeded in creating awareness on abuses against women and vulnerable adults with child advocates increasing in their parishes. They have grade school scholars but help is not in terms of monetary but in kind. They provide books, school bags and other materials needed for their schooling. They hold book-reading sessions for children aged six-years old to nine-years old. Their income-generating projects like candle-making help them support the said activities.
For its part, the Vicariate of Ina ng Lupang Pangako presented a program that focuses on enlightening women and vulnerable adults that they can fight or prevent abuse. Activities include information dissemination through posters encouraging victims to come out in the open and fight for their rights.
After listening to all the group reports, Aldea suggested that an effective marketing and promotions team should be formed.
“You need to promote your activity or program effectively,” she said. “You should be able to convince your Pastoral Council, your Parish Priest and your prospective donors that this is really needed by the community or the parishioners.”
Addressing those who already have programs, she said, “You should have tools for evaluation to see the program’s progress and effectiveness.”
She likewise suggested that committed volunteers should be provided with training and/or proper orientation to make them more efficient in doing their tasks. Lastly, Aldea called for continued seminars towards this direction to consistently educate people on abuse. She challenged the participants to echo what they have learned.
“A great indicator on the success of this orientation is quality not quantity,” she said, adding that it is not in the number of participants but how the participants have accepted the learnings and, ultimately, apply or cascade them down to their counterparts. (~Lulu Reclusado-Nario)