In 1997, Administrative Order 1-B or the “Establishment of a Women and Children Protection Unit in All Department of Health (DOH) Hospitals” was promulgated in response to the increasing number of women and children who consult due to violence, rape, incest, and other related cases.
Since A.O. 1-B was issued, the partnership among the Department of Health (DOH), University of the Philippines Manila, the Child Protection Network Foundation, several local government units, development partners and other agencies resulted in the establishment of women and child protection units (WCPUs) in DOH-retained and Local Government Unit (LGU) -supported hospitals. As of 2011, there are 38 working WCPUs in 25 provinces of the country. For the past years, there have been attempts to increase the number of WCPUs especially in DOH-retained hospitals, but they have been unsuccessful for many reasons.
As of 2016, a total of 94 WCPUs were established nationwide that served about 8,000 cases in the past year.
“The DOH shall provide medical assistance to victims” through a socialized scheme by the Women and Children Protection Unit (WCPU) in DOH-retained hospitals or in coordination with LGUs or other government health facilities (RA 9262:Anti-violence Violence Against Women Against Women And Their Children And Their Children Act Of 2004 )
The Department shall refer the child who is placed under protective custody to a government medical or health officer for a physical/ mental examination and/or medical treatment (RA 7610: Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act)
Republic Act No. 10354 (The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012) highlights the elimination of violence against women and children and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence.
A gender-fair and violence-free community where women and their children are empowered
Improved strategy towards a violence-free community through more systematic primary prevention, accessible and effective response system and strengthened functional mechanisms for coordination, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting
To institutionalize and standardize the quality of service and training of all women and children protection units. Specifically, the program aims to:
- Prevent violence against women and children from ever occurring (primary prevention)
- Intervene early to identify and support women and children who are at risk of violence (early intervention); and
- Respond to violence by holding perpetrators accountable, ensure connected services are available for women and their children (response).
- Violence & Injury Prevention
- Mental Health
Local & International Development Partners:
- Council for the Welfare of Children
- Philippine Commission of Women
- Department of Social Welfare and Development
- Department of Interior and Local Government
- Department of Justice
- Department of Labor and Employment
- Philippine National Police
- National Bureau of Investigation
- Civil Service Commission
- Commission on Human Rights
- Child Protection Network
- SAVE the Children
- World Health Organization
Policies and Laws
- Republic Act 7610: Anti-Child Abuse Law
- Republic Act 9262: Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act
- Republic Act No. 8353: Anti-Rape Law
- Republic Act 10364: Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons (RA 9208: Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003)
- Republic Act No. 8505: Rape Victim Assistance & Protect Act
- Republic Act 9710: Magna Carta of Women
- RA 7877: Anti-Sexual Harassment Act
- Republic Act 10354 (The Responsible and Reproductive Health Act of 2012)
- Administrative Order 1-B s. 1997: DOH Policy on the establishment of Women & Children’s Protection Units (WCPU)
- Administrative Order 2013-0011: Revised guidelines on the establishment of WCPUs in all hospitals
- Administrative Order 2014-0002: Violence and Injury Prevention
Strategies, Action Points and Timeline
- PRIMARY PREVENTION – address the underlying conditions that influence women and children's health, building a gender responsive community (family as entry point)
- SERVICE DELIVERY - foster collaborative partnerships which improve health outcomes
- ADVOCACY & SOCIAL MOBILIZATION - expand the reach and influence of our work, empowered communities
- RESEARCH & INNOVATION - research current and emerging issues affecting women and children
- ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE - ensure quality systems and practices that promote organizational sustainability, continuous improvement and innovation
- Establishment 94 functional WCPUs nationwide in collaboration with CPN
- VAWC Registry System established in 2016, with participating hospitals/WCPUs reporting
- Consultation and Planning Meeting with Regional Coordinators & WCPUs/hospitals
- Trained health workers & WCPU staff on 4Rs (Recognizing, Recording Reporting, and Referral) & Enhanced Training on Handling Abused Women & Children
Calendar of Activities
- Participation to the Celebration of 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (every November-December)
- Participation to the Celebration of National Children’s Month every November
- Sexual abuse cases (64%) are more commonly seen than physical abuse cases (17%) in the WCPUs. However, the National Baseline Study on Violence against Children in the Philippines (NBS-VAC) showed the exact opposite: about 66% of respondents reported experiencing physical violence while 17% experienced sexual violence in childhood. This validates the finding of the VAC Study where the respondents declared that of all forms of abuse, it is sexual abuse that is reportable while corporal punishment is widely accepted. Psychological abuse continues to be the least recognized although the VACS study showed that 3 out of 5 children have experienced psychological violence.
- Low disclosure rates are typical of sexual violence against children (NBS-VAC, 2015). In fact, sexual violence was only disclosed by a small proportion of children (1.6%). If the child disclosed at all, it was usually to a friend.
- There is a general belief that sexually abused children are typically girls. In the WCPUs, girl-children seeking services far outnumber boy-children. The most glaring result of the NBS-VAC, however, is that males were significantly more likely than females to experience sexual violence at home and in school. A higher proportion of males also reported experiencing sexual violence in all other settings (community, workplace, and dating). While sexual victimization in general is underreported, boys are even more so underreported.
- Presently, there is a low number of referrals to WCPUs from the schools/teachers. The NBS-VAC, however, showed that among children who sought help from authorities, the largest proportion reached out to teachers (18.6%) and guidance counselors (6.7%). Safe Schools for Teens highlights the key role of the school in child protection by increasing the capacity of teachers to recognize and respond to violence against children.
- Physical violence against children most commonly occurs at home (VACS, 2015). Corporal punishment or violent discipline is widely used by Filipino parents and accepted as a norm (SLR, 2016). Parenting programmes prevent child maltreatment by strengthening caregiver-child relationships and helping parents manage their children’s behavior through effective, age-appropriate, positive parenting strategies. Parenting for Lifelong Health aims to develop and test affordable, evidence-based, and culturally-appropriate programmes to prevent child maltreatment.
- While most physical violence occurs in the form of violent discipline, it may also occur in non-disciplinary contexts. The toxic trio of social norms around physical violence, financial stress and substance misuse are risk factors (SLR, 2016).
- Sexual violence against children most often occurs in the home (11.7%) and during dating (13.7%) (NBS-VACS, 2015). Lack of supervision, single headed households, and absent parents increase the risk for sexual violence against children in the home (SLR, 2016). The VACS Study (2015) identify the neighbor as the most common perpetrator of sexual violence in the community which is validated by the cases seen at the WCPUs. The increasing number of text mate / chatmate perpetrators shows the emerging threat presented by Internet and social media. Risky online behavior and lack of supervision when using the Internet exposes children to online sexual solicitation and grooming (SLR, 2016).
Ms. Arlene Rivera (Program Manager)
Ms. Dulce Elfa, RN, MPH (Alternate Program Manager)
Women and Men’s Health Development Division
Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, Department of Health
Weekdays, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM @ 0063 02 651 7800, loc. 1726 or 1729
Email Address: email@example.com
updated: October 17, 2018