Press Release
March 8, 2007

International Women's Day 2007
Sen. Pia brings up plight of girl children turned into "substitute spouses"

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today called public attention to an emerging problem in labor-exporting countries like the Philippines, where older daughters of overseas female workers are made to take on roles at home left by their mother?sometimes to the point of being subjected to sexual abuse and forced to become "substitute spouses" by their father.

"This disturbing phenomenon of the girl child being turned into substitute spouse has been happening in our country along with the feminization of labor migration," said Cayetano, noting how women now comprise 70% of Filipino workers deployed abroad.

"The problem remains largely unreported, however, due to its sensitive nature and mainly because of the fear of the girl-child to file a formal complaint against her own father which would bring severe stress and shame to her and her family," she added.

As a result, she said the abused daughter is forced to become an "adult" at an early age, depriving her of the opportunities and rights of being a child.

She described the phenomenon as one of the most damaging social impacts of labor migration, which she said can never be measured by any of the government's socio-economic indicators or captured by statistics on labor export.

The lady senator went to New York last week to represent the Philippine Senate at the 51st Session of the Commission for the Status of Women, which was jointly organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (UNDAW).

Cayetano is First Vice President of the IPU's Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians.

The international forum-session entitled, "A parliamentary perspective on discrimination and violence against the girl child" stressed the need to push for laws and policies at the national level to protect the girl child from violence and abuse.

Cayetano said that in the case of the Philippines, the solution lies not in enacting new legislation, but in the strict enforcement of existing ones like the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act or RA 9262. The senator has also been leading efforts to increase public awareness on the rights of women and children by conducting community seminars on RA 9262.

Reports reaching the senator's office revealed that as of March 2007, a total of 19,835 barangays all over the country had pending VAWC (violence against women and children) cases.

She also noted records of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) showing that of the 1,449 victims the agency served for protective and rehabilitative services from 2003 to 2006, 81% or 1175 were women, and 66% or 960 were girl-children.

News Latest News Feed