(4) 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence: The VFA and Its Effects on Women



As part of the 16 Days of Action to end violence against women, Pinay sa Seattle demands that President Obama thoroughly examine the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines, and its culpability in the ongoing violence against Filipino women at the hands of U.S. military servicemen for the last 11 years. The women of Pinay, a member organization of Gabriela USA, stands in solidarity nationally and internationally with all those who stand firm to end violence against women.

The United States military, through the VFA, is responsible for crimes to the Philippine people around US military bases in the Philippines, especially the crimes against women. This agreement violates Philippine sovereignty by allowing foreign access to all parts of the country and the people. Increased militarization creates a culture of fear and supports the use of violence, aggression, or military interventions for settling disputes and enforcing US economic and political interests. Women are the most affected at the hands of US militarization.

In 2006, Lance Corporal Daniel Smith was convicted for raping a Filipina woman named “Nicole” and was sentenced to 40 years in jail. Although the Philippine Supreme Court decision called for him to be turned over to Philippine custody, Smith has not served a day of his sentence in a Filipino jail. Through the VFA, the U.S. maintains him in U.S. custody. The fire on this case was reignited when Smith in 2009 offered a settlement for damages with Nicole, in the amount of 100,000 Pesos ($2,000 USD). Nicole and her family accepted the settlement and decided to relocate to the United States, stating, “There is no justice in the Philippines.”

The United States military, through the VFA, is responsible for the abuse that Nicole experienced and must be recognized as such. Rape culture is condoned worldwide, and domestically in the United States, sexual abuse continues to be a huge problem. Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that, “Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, with 60% still being left unreported.” Due to this substantial underreporting and the continued failures of the current justice system, RAINN estimates that only about 6% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.

Pinay sa Seattle is united in the ongoing fight to tear down the VFA and end the U.S. military presence in the Philippines.

For more information, please visit the 16 Days of Activism homepage – http:// 16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu/2010-campaign/theme-announcement