MANILA, Jan. 8, 2012—Rather than liberate women from a problematic marriage that involves violence on the part of the husband, a divorce law will help such men enter into marriage repeatedly, thereby turning more women into victims of violent behavior, said a life advocate.
“Divorce is not a solution to problematic marriages. If we let an abusive man divorce his wife, we will just allow the man to go from one woman to another to oppress them,” said Jose Descallar, Buhay Party-list’s pro-life advocacy staff.
He pointed out that existing laws address the concerns of women in dire situations, such as those who are constantly in danger due to a husband’s violent behavior.
Existing law that addresses domestic violence
“There are laws already that protect abused women from their abusive husbands, like the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act (AVAWC). Cases can be filed against the men under the AVAWC, then file a petition for legal separation,” Descallar said.
Republic Act (RA) 9262 or the AVAWC is titled “An act defining violence against women and their children, providing for protective measures for victims, prescribing penalties therefore, and for other purposes” and was signed into law in 2004.
“If we want to address problematic marriages then it would be better to take a more mature approach, like proper and better preparation before the marriage rite,” Descallar suggested.
The life advocate also pointed out that there are several kinds of divorce law, one of which is a no-fault divorce, “which I think Gabriela is pushing for. In this kind of divorce, anybody can just divorce his/her spouse without proving any fault to justify the petition. Mas delikado ito.”
House Bill (HB) 1799, which seeks to amend the Family Code to include a provision on divorce, was filed by Gabriela Party-list Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus and was brought into the spotlight again in late December days after news of the reproductive health (RH) bill’s signing into law came out.
Divorce bill will protect women?
The RH bill had been touted by its proponents and supporters as essential in addressing maternal mortality and other women’s health issues. In the same manner, some sectors are calling for the legalization of divorce as a measure for the protection of women and the assertion of women’s rights.
Descallar negated the notion of divorce benefiting the cause of women and recently chided in an online discussion those who asserted that legalizing it in the Philippines would mean a step forward for women.
“In fact, in one of the comments I wrote in reply to a feminist friend’s post about divorce, I said, ‘Divorce is great for men who want to change wives as often as they want.’” (CBCP for Life)