(22 October 2019, Honolulu, Hawaii) – The Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) hosted a dialogue with the Domestic Violence Action Center (DVAC) and Filipino women’s organizations on 21 October 2019 at the Pacific Club in Honolulu to discuss issues affecting women, especially migrant Filipinos married to foreigners. The discussion was led by CFO Secretary Francisco Acosta who is in Hawaii from 20 to 27 October 2019 for their Ugnayan Series, CFO’s program on reaching out to overseas Filipinos.

During the meeting, Secretary Acosta shared the common concerns of migrant Filipinos in areas they have visited, especially women who are married to foreign spouses. Among the challenges that these women face are the language and cultural barriers, financial dependency, emotional manipulation, and threats of deportation. These conditions make these migrant women susceptible to abuse by their foreigner partners.

Janet Ramos, Supervising Emigrant Services Officer of the CFO further elaborated on the programs of the government addressing human trafficking through information dissemination and counselling during Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) conducted by their agency to migrating Filipinos. She also spoke about their cooperation with law enforcement agencies to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of human trafficking and domestic violence.

Meanwhile, Marci Lopes, Deputy Director of DVAC shared some of their programs to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence and abuse. DVAC, a non-profit organization founded in 1990, aims is to alleviate the problem of domestic abuse in Hawaii. They work with various stakeholders, including the government, local associations and agencies, and community organizations in delivering legal advice, counselling, and other services to victims of domestic violence. Cristina Arias, Vice President for Survivor Advocacy Services noted that Filipino women are among their top clients at DVAC. One Filipina survivor of domestic abuse shared her experience which inspired the attending leaders of Filipino women’s organization to take stronger action against domestic violence.

Participants to the meeting agreed to work more closely and pursue further dialogue to address the stigma and the culture of silence surrounding domestic violence in the Filipino community. CFO and DVAC hope to strengthen their cooperation through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between their agencies. Filipino women organizations have committed to do more and participate in further discussions and information dissemination regarding domestic violence, human trafficking, and women empowerment. Incidence of domestic violence can be reported by calling the Philippine Consulate General’s Assistance to Nationals Desk at (808) 253-9446 or DVAC Hotline at (808) 531-3771. (END)