Davao City reports 2,707 VAWC cases in 2023

Mar. 09, 2024
There are still challenges as women are still reluctant to report abuses to authorities. The IGDD is conducting paralegal training for VAW desk officers in the barangays. (Image by Tumisu from Pixabay)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Coming off an abusive relationship, Michelle (not her real name), age 26, said reporting her ordeal from her live-in boyfriend was “not an easy decision to make”, but had to do it for her three-year-old daughter.

Michelle once lived with her ex-partner four years ago after graduating from college, and when she was applying for a teaching job in New Zealand, she found out she got pregnant.

When the pandemic struck, her partner lost his job and was hooked on online gambling while she juggled mothering duties with an online tutoring job, which was the start of their troubles.

Nung umpisa, mainit lang ulo nya tapos sigaw sigaw lang. Then eventually kapag may misunderstanding kami bisan petty lang nasasaktan nya na ako. At first gina understand ko pero eventually napuno din ako and super takot ako for my daughter kasi nakikita na niya, (At first, he was just hot-tempered and was screaming a lot. Then eventually, he hurt me even when we had a petty misunderstanding. I tried to understand things at first, but eventually I had enough and I was super afraid for my daughter because she saw what he did)” Michelle said.

Michelle finally called the police when her partner tried strangling her during a fight, even as she was holding their baby. Police arrested her ex-partner, but she decided not to pursue a legal case out of pity.

Michelle is now separated from her partner, as she now works at a call center company to support her daughter.

Post-pandemic rise

Michelle’s case is one of thousands of cases of violence against women and children (VAWC) reported in Davao City. 

In 2023, Davao City reported the highest number of VAWC cases with 2,707. 

This data is provided by the city government’s Integrated Gender and Development Division (IGDD), which monitors and provides legal, counseling, and support services for VAWC cases reported or referred to their office, as the city observes International Women’s Month.

The agency reported that in 2023, there had been 1,439 cases of economic abuse, 755 psychological or emotional abuse, 463 physical abuse, and 50 sexual abuse cases.

But these figures have cases that were reported late, says IGGD head Lorna Mandin, who explained that there were abuses experienced during the pandemic but were not reported due to community quarantine restrictions and limited access to IGGD in that period.   

VAWC cases recorded by IGGD before the pandemic in 2019 were at 2540, and decreased sharply during the pandemic years with 1,197 cases (2020) and 999 cases (2021). In 2022, there were 1,864 cases reported.

The increase in cases is mostly attributed to economic and social factors. 

Its high kasi ang mga babae baya walang mga trabaho, naa sila sa balay ug economically dependent. So naay tendency nga abusohon sila kay ubos ang ilang tan-aw sa ilang kaugalingon, ubos ang tan-aw sa lalaki sa iyaha (It’s high because women don’t have jobs, they stay at home and are economically dependent. So, there is tendency to be abused because men look down on them, and they also look down on themselves),” Mandin said.

The IGDD assisted a total of 1,341 walk-in clients in that year. Some cases involved seeking financial support from their ex-partners for their children.

But not all cases involved physical abuse. There is the case of Karen Grace (not her real name), age 19, who stopped schooling because of the toll of verbal abuse she received from her stepmother since she was aged 9.

Karen Grace said she suffered from this abuse when her father was out at work. 

Dati katong naa pa ko sa amoang balay nagapuyo, pag makita ko niya na wala koy ginabuhat yawyawan na dayon ko niya. Ginatawag ko niya nga burikat, gaga, minsan iya kong balikason kay nagpabuhi ra daw ko. Pero kung naa akong papa di ko niya tingugan, (When I was still staying at home, she would berate me when I was not doing anything. She would call me a whore, stupid, and sometimes she would say I was just living off them. But she would not say anything to me when my dad was around)” she said.

Karen is still striving to finish high school, but she has difficulty focusing on her academics as well as her social interaction with schoolmates.


Mandin acknowledged several agencies and police force for their contribution to enforce the protection and assistance for women, such as the Women and Children Protection Desk of the Police, Women and Children Protection Units in hospitals, especially at the Southern Philippines Medical Center, and the VAWC desks in barangays for raising awareness on abuse against women.

But Mandin said there are still challenges as women are still reluctant to report abuses to authorities. The IGDD is conducting paralegal training for VAW desk officers in the barangays.

“This is the role of our barangay officials, we need to strengthen the enforcement of laws so that the community will be a safe space for the women,” she said.

Another step in addressing VAWC for IGGD is the use of technology, as they implement the Violence Against Women (VAW) Tracking System (VTS), a web-based data and tracking system that will record and monitor cases that can be accessed by concerned agencies.

Mandin said this will help monitor if cases have been resolved in due time. (davaotoday.com)

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