Pinoys call for an end to violence on Valentine's Day

By Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Feb 16 2013 11:19 AM | Updated as of Feb 16 2013 07:19 PM

SAN FRANCISCO – Members of Gabriela USA, Babae and National Alliance for Filipino Concerns marched to the San Francisco City Hall yesterday, as part of a global activism movement, “One Billion Rising”, which called on men and women around the world to take a stand against violence toward women and girls.

Marily Mondejar, president of Filipina Women’s Network said, “Violence has to end. But it takes a community to help end violence against women and girls.”

Organizers of One Billion Rising said that one in every two minutes, someone in America is sexually assaulted, one in three women have been raped or beaten in her life, and 38 percent of rapists are friends or acquaintances.

These Filipino activists said immigrant women are more prone to abuse. They are lobbying for Congress to revive the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which allows immigrant women to leave their abusive U.S. citizen husbands and self-petition for their immigrant visas.

Pia Cortez, co-chair of Babae said, “We know VAWA is not sufficient and does not reflect the reality of a lot of immigrant women in the U.S.” The group wants the U-visas, which are granted to protect certain undocumented immigrant victims while prosecuting perpetrators, to be reinstated.

They also want the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the U.S. rescinded because they said it makes Filipino women and children vulnerable to possible abuse. The VFA allows the U.S. government to retain jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel accused of committing crimes in the Philippines.

Valerie Francisco, national chair of Gabriela U.S.A said, “This is putting women and children in grave danger because of the high-risk of violence associated with occupation and militarization.”