Press Release

In partnership with UNFPA, the Department of Health and Amai Pakpak Medical Center establish a Women and Children Protection Unit in Marawi City

7 November 2018
Establishing a Women and Children Protection Unit at Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City. (From Left to Right) Dr. Siegfried Hector Razo of the Department of Health Region 10, Dr. Alejandrito Descallar of the Provincial Health Office - Lanao del Sur, Dr. Luz Saber of Amai Pakpak Medical Center, Dr. Sittienor G. Casib, UNFPA Country Representative Iori Kato, Dr. Alinader Minalang from the Integrated Provincial Health Office - Lanao del Sur, and Dr. Rasnifa Pundato-Batugan.

MARAWI, Philippines – To provide a multi-sectoral specialized care to the survivors of gender-based violence, the Department of Health, in partnership with UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, established a Women and Children Protection Unit (WCPU) at Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City.

Violence against women and children leaves a significantly negative impact on the survivors’ physical, psychological, sexual and reproductive health, and also on the potential of economic growth of the community and country as a whole. For many women and children, a visit to a health facility may be their first effort to seek help and the only chance to receive support and care, as well as to escape a situation of abuse.

Armed conflict and other emergencies can increase vulnerabilities to such gender-based violence (GBV) amongst those women and children who have already been disadvantaged by the effects of a crisis, and diminish means of their protection. A rapid assessment conducted in 2017 after the displacement caused by the Marawi siege revealed that women and girls are facing increased risks to GBV, including sexual abuse, exploitation, and early/forced marriage. The assessment showed that 45 percent of conflict-affected sites reported that girls were the most affected by sexual violence.

With support from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund and in collaboration with the Child Protection Network (CPN) Foundation, Lanao del Sur, and Marawi City Police, UNFPA provided equipment for the WCPU and supported the 4-6 weeks training of the service providers for managing cases of violence and abuse against women and children.


Dr. Nadhira Abdulcarim explains to UNFPA Country Representative Iori Kato some
of the challenges to addressing violence against women and girls in Marawi.
Dr. Abdulcarim is part of the multidisciplinary team at the WCPU that provides
life-saving  interventions such as medical care, mental health and psychosocial
support, and police assistance.

Now the unit is equipped with a multidisciplinary team composed of doctor, social worker and police personnel trained to provide coordinated services that ensure confidentiality and a survivor-centered approach.  This is the first WCPU established in the Lanao del Sur province (the 95th one in the country), and is expected to enhance access of gender-based violence survivors in the province to coordinated life-saving interventions such as medical care, mental health and psychosocial support, and police assistance.

“Violence against women and girls is a significant concern to public health and a severe violation of human rights,” said Iori Kato, UNFPA Representative in the Philippines, during the handover ceremony of the WCPU.

“If we allow gender-based violence to continue to take its harmful toll not only on the survivors but also on whole families and communities, we endanger prospects for lasting peace and recovery,” he added.

According to the National Baseline Study on Violence against Children in 2015, 14.5 percent of girls and 19.5 percent of boys aged 13-17 have experienced sexual violence. The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey revealed that 5 percent of women aged 15-49 have experienced sexual violence. However some 40 percent of these women aged 15-49 who have experienced sexual or physical violence, have never sought help or told anyone about it, reflecting a “culture of silence and impunity” prevailing in the Philippines.

UNFPA in partnership with national and regional agencies, local government units, NGOs and other sectors, remains committed to assisting GBV victims-survivors with enhanced access to life-saving services as well as immediate and long-term care and support to their healing and recovery. Elimination of all forms of violence against all women and girls is also a target of the global Sustainable Development Goals, and UNFPA will keep pushing for a world free of violence for all women and children.

***

UNFPA is one of the UN’s lead agencies working to further gender equality and women’s empowerment, and to address the physical and psychological consequences of gender-based violence and its prevention.

For more information, please contact:

Mario Villamor: Tel.: +63 917 302 6699; villamor@unfpa.org