Believe it or not! The Philippines is now the only country without Divorce that has not legalized divorce. There is Vatican but it is not really a country.
Gabriela refiled a controversial bill to legalize divorce in the country. Known as House Bill No. 1799 (An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines), it lists down five grounds for the filing of a petition for divorce:
1. Petitioner has been separated de facto (in fact) from his or her spouse for at least five years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;
2. Petitioner has been legally separated from his or her spouse for at least two years at the time of the filing of the petition and reconciliation is highly improbable;
3. When the spouses suffer from irreconcilable differences that have caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage;
4. When one or both spouses are psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations;
5. Any of the grounds for legal separation that has caused the irreparable breakdown of the marriage.
My stand on divorce
I am for divorce. Let me elaborate.
I wrote about annulment in the Philippines four years ago. The comments from readers exposed me to the sad reality of abusive spouses. I understood the reasons of failed marriages of close friends and relatives but it was only in my blog and through emails, that I understood the abusive relationships in some marriages. My heart reaches out to women crying out for help, one of which told me:
Being trapped for 18 years (1992-present) as single parent but status married, I hate our laws, as a woman, as a wife, having been abused. I was a battered wife for four years until i decided to run away for my life. My home is not safe anymore, my basic right to life was violated for four years (1988-1992) by someone supposed to protect me. Annulment law is a milking cow for lawyers, a law only for the elite, a privilege to those who can afford, a law for sale, another human rights violation. For those battered women who cant afford, the law shouts for you to wait for death, no escape, we are doomed.
Being battered and unprotected is one thing I hate being born Filipina. I was already scammed and I cannot even appeal cause 15 days has lapsed. Money cannot be made in 15 days for a single parent with two children whose education is priority. Decision notice did not even warn me I have to beat 15 days.
It is for this reason that the bill was filed, “for women in abusive marital relationships, the need for a divorce law is real. It is high time that we give Filipino couples, especially the women, this option,” said Gabriela Representatives Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus in the bill’s explanatory note.
An abusive relationship is one reason why I support the divorce bill.
The abuse can be verbal, physical or psychological. Imagine there were a total of 6,679 cases involving violence against women recorded in 2007 in the Philippines? Official figures in 2009 showed that 19 women were victims of marital violence everyday. According to the Philippine National Police, wife battery ranked highest at 6,783 or 72% of all forms of violence and abuse against women. These are only for reported cases . What more with those who are “ashamed to report”. Domestic violence is not limited to one social class. Many of the unreported cases belong to women belonging in the upper class of society.
Do you think the spouse who inflict these abuse ever change? Most never do and the only way for abusive spouses to change is to undergo therapy.
A divorced mother from the USA told me that “the culture and values of a society have to change. There has to be equal respect and rights given to men and women. This has to be more important than “protecting the sanctity of marriage”. As fas as I am concerned, if a partner (man OR woman) abuses the other, THE SANCTITY OF THEIR MARRIAGE HAVE ALREADY BEEN VIOLATED.”
Divorce Law is a start
If the divorce bill is passed, well and good but it does not stop there.
Instituting divorce law is a start. Changes need to start within the family system and our culture.
1. As parents, we teach our children not by words but with our actions. Abusive spouses will pass on their habits to their children when they witness physical, sexual, economic, verbal or psychological violence. As parents, our children have to know that Violence against women in any form is a crime.
2. Women have to change – they have to be brave enough to leave their husbands and make it in on their own, believe in their own strengths and ability to live and support themselves and their children.
3. Men have to change. If a man feels entitled to treat his wife and children as property or human beings who should be under his control, then he needs to be thrown in jail if he acts accordingly.
4. Most importantly, we all have to change, women trapped in these relationships are isolated – some physically, financially, socially, others just emotionally (that is why there are accomplished career women who are in these relationships).
*number 2-4 was shared to me by a divorced Filipino in the USA
Marriage will not be taken lightly if there is a divorce law. The law is there to help spouses trapped in abusive relationships and when the marriage is beyond repair. What happens if your child witness the abusive spouse hitting their parent? The child will believe it is alright to be stuck in a marriage where abuse is alright. The child in turn, will carry this on in their future relationships.
I believe my friend when she said that “the most important persons in this situation are the children. In any decision you make, always choose the one that is best for them.”
Voice out your opinions on the Divorce Bill.
If you feel that the divorce bill is important to you, show your support for it. If you are against it, then voice your opinion as well. I have included the copy of the House Bill No, 1799 at the bottom of this entry so you can educate yourself about the contents and merits of the bill. Just like my fellow mom blogger (Dine Racoma), she enjoins us to “think about the benefits and consequences carefully. Think about how you, someone you know, or even how your own children will be affected by the bill if it becomes law.”
Here are what others thought of the Divorce bill.
After reading the bill, please share your thoughts.