LAOAG CITY — In observation of the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW), lady personnel of the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office led a parade on Tuesday to strengthen public awareness and campaigns on women’s rights in order to prevent and combat all forms of gender-based violence.

Records show that violence against women and girls – including trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual violence – remains a serious problem in the Philippines, but many victims choose not to report the incidents due to lack of awareness about their legal rights.

“Let’s end violence against women now. We have all equal rights and we must not tolerate abuse of women and girls,” said Joan Alipio, one of the lady police officers who joined the campaign.

The 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women, from November 25 to December 12, is initiated by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). The theme for 2015 is “End VAW Now! It’s Our Duty! Gains and Ways Forward”.

Earlier, women’s rights advocates in Ilocos Norte reiterated to all stakeholders there are adequate laws for the protection of women’s rights and promotion of their well-being. These are included in the provisions of the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Magna Carta of Women, and the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

In Ilocos Norte, Mary Ang of Zonta Club Ilocos Norte revealed a number of incest cases prevails but the exact record is still undetermined.

“This is because of our old culture but we must adopt to modern times. There are shocking stories around, in barangays and in schools but only a few got the courage to report to proper authorities,” Ang said as she underscored her organization continues to conduct advocacy on parenting to help address this situation.

Zonta Club Ilocos Norte also expressed concern about the increasing number of teen-age pregnancy in Ilocos region citing a report from the University of the Philippines Population Institute that one in every 10 mothers is a teenager.

Meanwhile, a report from the PNP Women and Children Protection Center showed that from 4,000 cases of rape annually up to year 2000, the cases went up to 7,000 last year, where 77 percent of the victims were minors. PNA