RESISTANCE is the common response of women to the experiences they had with armed conflict.
This was one of the findings presented by Leny Ocasiones-Perez of the University of San Carlos (USC) Department of Sociology and Anthropology in the University Research Forum at the USC campus.
She presented her dissertation called “Confronting Patriarchal Notions of Weakness and Subordination: The Experiences ofWomen in Armed Conflict Situations,” which she wrote in 2005.
Out of her 16 women respondents, half of them chose to actively resist by involving themselves in an organization where they do educationa and petition campaigns.
“The others resisted by refusing to be crushed by their traumatic experiences and by rebuilding their lives. My study shows creative ways women have found to survive and be resilient in the face of massive disruption,” she said.
Ocasiones-Perez said that her study focused on women in the towns of Asturias and Tuburan and in Danao City because these areas have always been considered as “the hotbed of rebellion by the Philippine military and have been the sites of recent encounters between the military and the New People’s Army.”
Her research also showed that due to the disruption that armed conflict have created, the women have had varying degrees of success reforming social ties and networks when they were forced to relocate or after the death or disappearance of a loved one.
In the country, about 150,000 people, majority of them were women, were forced to leave their homes to live in evacuation centers due to conflict-related incidents in 2001.
From 1980 to 1999, the Commission on Human Rights recorded about 100 cases of violence against women in armed conflicts in Regions 2, 6 and 9.
Women’s socio-economic activities had also been hampered due to armed conflicts in their areas.
“This resulted in greater impoverishment, overwork as the women struggled to survive, and broken social ties,” said Ocasiones-Perez.
Fourteen out of the 16 women in the research suffered various illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, relapse after pregnancy, nervous breakdown and miscarriages.
“The deterioration of the women’s physical and emotional well-being is further aggravated since there is hardly any community or state support to help them,” added Ocasiones-Perez.
In her study, she asked the government to rethink its policy of militarization and cooperate with the civil society in providing assistance to the militarized zones in Cebu and in the country.
“This study attests to scarce economic, psychological and legal support for people living in militarized zones,” she said. (NRC)