Gender Aspect of the Violations
Transforming Grief and Anguish to Courage and Hope:
Women’s experiences of claiming their rights as workers and seeking justice for their loved ones deprived of life and freedom
By Ms. Carolina C. Dionco[i]
(Excerpt from Despair to Defiance: The Impact of Extra-judicial Killings, Enforced Disappearance, Arbitrary Detention to Families of Victims. Center for Trade Union and Human Rights. 2011.)
In December 2009, I received an invitation from the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) to their Christmas Party together with the workers. It was a Christmas party very different from the others that I have attended. The lack of festive mood among the workers and their families was obvious. The mood inside the room reminded me of my visit to the Women’s Correctional Facility on Christmas Eve several years ago. The party unusually began with a workshop that gathered together workers and their families, each with their sad stories to tell. The sharing of the meal changed the mood a bit but the conversations toned down. A simple program consisted of speeches, singing, and some games made the atmosphere a little festive. Soon the workers were laughing and teasing each other. I was amazed by the transformation. Amid the experiences of grief and anxieties, they can find ways to break from them to enjoy a brief moment of fun and entertainment.
This paper is the fruit of my reflection of engagement with the workers through the CTUHR since that Christmas party. I am grateful for the opportunity to have facilitated sessions with the workers and their families, most of whom are women, who had been victims of human rights abuses. The focus of this reflection, however, is on the experiences of women in their struggle to protect and claim their rights as workers or to seek justice for their loved ones who had been deprived of life and freedom. An assumption here is that human rights abuses affect women differently because of their gender. Women also deal with their pain and grief, fear and anxieties differently because they are women.
[i] Carolina C. Dionco is a faculty member of the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies (IFRS) and the Theology and Religious Education Department (TRED) of De La Salle University Manila. She is also chairperson of Women’s Initiatives for Society, Culture, and Environment (WISE), a non-government organization that helps poor women in empowering themselves towards personal and social transformation.