Monday, November 30, 2009

Feminist Counseling & CSA

I was a resource person for CSA regarding setting up a women and children crisis center somewhere in Pampanga. The venue was wonderful! A three storey Japanese inspired building, with 15 minimalist bedrooms; nude women paintings by no less than Araceli Dans were hanged on the wall. The training hall was accented by billboard of old films such as "Gone with the Wind", "Bus Stop", among others. Oh, I really loved that place! In the morning, we had our shibashi exercises and in the evening, some STRT moves. All this comfortable ambience contributed to a very lighthearted discussion of a very sensitive and heavy topics like CSA and VAW.

The crisis center is on its initial phase of setting up; thus, we were requested to share our experiences on the said topics. This center will be funded by the city government and there were already two full staff, a working Board and a battery of volunteers from the police, health and other agencies. At the end of the training, they were able to come up with a "score card" on how to measure the effectiveness and implementation of this intervention.

The whole three-day session was truly a soulful discussion. With my topic, I started the session with a short documentary film titled, "Daughter". Afterwhich I asked them how did they feel. A mother cried a lot especially with the scene when the younger daughter was also being abused by the father. Another mother was almost in tears because she could not understand how a mother cannot believe about the abuse when the eldest daughter disclosed about it. A very inspiring discussion ensued afterwards.

Also, a case of child physical abuse was presented. The social worker and the police woman was in a dilemma whether to withdraw the case or not. The child's perpetrator was also her mother. The latter showed no remorse on what she did to her child. I personally opined that the damage and consequences inflicted by the mother to her child must be meted out with commensurate punishment. Perhaps, a better rehabilitation program for perpetrators should also be installed.

A child sexual abuse case was also shared by a medical doctor. She was also wondering how come a mother can possibly side with the perpetrator. The mother even let another daughter be the one examined for a medico-legal examination. It resulted in a double case of sexual abuse when the younger daughter was also found positive of genital trauma. Now, the mother was in shambles. So, I discussed how come mothers could not readily support their daughters and the crucial alliance with the mothers (to believe in their daughters) will proved to be the first step with the daughters' healing.

Furthermore, a topic on the "history of women's oppression" and "gender and socialization" which was given earlier by an advocate against VAWC also proved to be crucial in the acceptance of why a feminist approach to counseling must be taken. This, I believed, demonstrated that counselors who desire to effectively address problem such as VAWC must also be willing to embrace feminist counseling. Because only FC can make a counselor understand the depth and breadth of why VAWC happens and will in the end give her all the patience she needs in journeying with the women and children towards a more humane and gender-equal society for all...

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