Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Froilyn Mendoza, Thomson Reuters Foundation

7/18/2014 (2 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tribal women reduced to only serving as housewives in arranged marriages

When the government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro on October 15, 2012, many rejoiced. A peace deal seemed finally to have ended the four-decade conflict between the Government and MILF.

It is not surprising to see young indigenous women in the Philippines being forced to marry men six times their age in arranged marriages.

It is not surprising to see young indigenous women in the Philippines being forced to marry men six times their age in arranged marriages.

Highlights

By Froilyn Mendoza, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/18/2014 (2 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Téduray tribe, Philippines, rape, marriage, customs


(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - But peace is not just the absence of war or conflict. For indigenous women like me, peace is about kefiyo fédéw (peaceful feeling). This can only be attained in the future Bangsamoro if all our basic needs such as food, shelter, security and recognition are satisfied. We need to be given the fundamental right to our identity and territory. It is our inherent birthright.  It is non-negotiable.

I live in the southernmost part of the Philippines, in the hinterlands of South Upi. It is one of the poorest municipalities in the province of Maguindanao and is at the heart of the conflict. It is a core territory of the envisioned future Bangsamoro political entity.

Get food into the hands of hungry children -- by going here!


I belong to the Téduray tribe, one of the 18 major tribal groupings of Non Islamized Indigenous Lumad tribes in Mindanao. For the past 20 years I've been a grassroots campaigner and organiser for indigenous women. I am the founder of the Téduray Lambangian Women's Organization (TLWOI), a grassroots organization of tribal women in my hometown.

Since 1970, more than 10,000 Téduray families have fled Maguindanao. This is partly due to armed confrontations between the Ilaga (a Christian Militia) and the Moro (Muslim people in Mindanao). In addition, in 1996 the MILF established a base in our area and declared it a Satellite Camp. In 2000 former President Estrada declared war against MILF and overran our camp. We had to flee once again, and we still do not have permanent places to live in.

Indigenous people in the Philippines have historically been excluded from participating in governance and the electoral process. However, there is an opportunity for this to change. The development of the Basic Law of the new region of Bangsamoro has included a process of consultation with the population of Mindanao. Indigenous women were able to get involved in these consultations, in part due to a governance project by Conciliation Resources and the British Embassy,which included capacity building activities that empowered us to participate.

Indigenous women have been actively engaging in the on-going peace negotiations between the GPH and MILF, especially in the drafting of the new Basic Law. We have been sending organisational statements, attending public hearings and presenting our position in consultations on the Basic Law. We have submitted our proposed provisions for consideration in the drafting of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

This is important as it helps to challenge the wider public perceptions of indigenous women as housewives who are confined to household chores.

Indigenous women play an important role in our customary traditional governance. We are responsible for settling conflicts, officiating rituals and acting as midwives when other indigenous women give birth.

However, despite our important traditional roles, cultures within the indigenous community continue to harm and disadvantage women. It is not surprising to see young indigenous women forced to marry men six times their age in arranged marriages. Rape is considered an ordinary case that is confined to the expertise of the tribal leaders and settled amicably. Even worse, rape victims are sometimes forced to marry the perpetrator because in our culture, rape is a form of marriage. Cases of incest rape are common.

With the prominence of alcoholism among indigenous peoples, physical and sexual abuse is increasing. These cases are settled amicably as part of our customary law, and are not known publicly.

The tribal structure is the biggest stumbling block to indigenous women's empowerment. This is why we need to actively participate in the codification of our customary laws to ensure that the issues affecting us are considered.

This is a chance for indigenous women to interact with governance structures outside the tribe.

For instance, many indigenous women are victims of discrimination and violence. However, they cannot talk about the issue openly because there's a tribal culture of mesala (penalizing) those who expose sensitive issues, like rape. It is forbidden and taboo to talk about sex. As a result, women who are victims of violence keep silence. Through the consultation, we were able to request that the Bangsamoro Basic Law have a provision on this. Without the input of indigenous women, this issue may have gone unconsidered.

We indigenous women are praying that our proposed provisions will be upheld when Congress enacts the final Bangsamoro Basic Law. In particular we hope for a specific provision on the protection of the rights of indigenous women.

We know the struggle isn't over, we only hope that partners and supporters will continue to walk with us in our journey. No war, no violence against women.

** TLWOI is a federation of 35 community-based women's organisations of indigenous peoples in the province of Maguindanao. Froilyn Mendoza is a member of the Transition Commission which implements the 2012 Framework peace Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Asia Pacific

Deal W. Hudson: A Telling Vignette from a Chinese High School Classroom

Image of I can imagine another time in my life that I might have challenged Amy to think instead about the principle of human rights that limits the power of the state, but that was of secondary importance in that time and place. What was important was to establish a human point of contact between me, a gray-headed American philosopher, and those handsome, bright-eyed students who represent the future of China.

By Deal W. Hudson

Last night I returned from a trip to China where I visited eight of its elite high schools and talked with the students about college education in the United States. In one class I raised the question of how was it possible that a Chinese student could be ... continue reading


Christians fight against Communism as Hong Kong protests continue Watch

Image of A protesters during marches against Chinese interference in Hong Kong, which is supposed to remain autonomous par the treaty signed before the 1997 handover between Great Britain and China.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The massive rallies in Hong Kong for political independence from China's overbearing Communist government have seen considerable support from the local  Christian communities-both Catholic and Protestant-despite the issue being wholly secular. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


Despite international outrage Japan begins its annual dolphin slaughter Watch

Image of In the 2014 hunting season, which lasts from the end of September to March, fishermen will be able to kill thousands of dolphins and other porpoises.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The small Japanese coastal village of Taiji has begun another annual hunt for dolphins, which has caused Western environmentalists to clash with local traditionalists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The small town of 3,500 people in the Wakayama prefecture ... continue reading


Orphan trafficking ring stopped by Indian High Court Watch

Image of Child trafficking between orphanages has become a major problem for some Indian states, where poorer children are shipped off to orphanages with low amounts of children, so that the orphanages may receive lucrative government aid.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Indian court has begun legal action against orphanages that are supposedly sending large numbers of children into the southern Indian state of Kerala from northern states that are more impoverished. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The kerala High Court ... continue reading


Move by Bangladesh to LOWER legal age to marry raises international outrage Watch

Image of Bangladesh has the highest child marriage rate in Southeast Asia, which puts young women there at higher risk of sexual exploitation and domestic violence.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Bangladesh has an ongoing problem with child marriage: two out of three girls there marry before they reach adulthood. A proposal to lower the age to 16 years of age has prompted a storm of international criticism. Women's rights activists are calling it "a ... continue reading


Islamic State planned beheadings in Australia Watch

Image of Mohamed Elomar, an Australian who joined the Islamic State, and one of the primary examples of homegrown extremism.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Australian officials have prevented an Islamic State plot to carry out and film the beheading of a random person in Sydney, as part of a series of public executions intended to strike terror into the West. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pre-dawn raids across ... continue reading


Parish dedicated to John Paul II the first in Chinese-speaking world Watch

Image of Construction of the church began in February 2014, thanks to donations from the local Catholic community. Father Orifiamma said the parish still needs financial help to finish paying for the costs of construction.

By CNA/EWTN News

The Diocese of Kaohsiung in Taiwan has become the first in the Chinese-speaking world to have a parish dedicated to St. John Paul II, where a first-class relic of the Polish saint's blood is kept. Kaohsiung, Taiwan (CNA) - Archbishop Peter Chen-Chung Liu of Kaohsiung ... continue reading


Pauline Sisters celebrate their 50 years in Goa, India Watch

Image of In keeping with the Founder's vision, the Paulines have gone beyond the confines of churches and schools to reach out to people in their homes and marketplaces.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Pauline Sisters are due to celebrate their 50 years of presence in Goa, India, this September 20th. Goa is the former headquarters of the Asian Church. On September 20. The Pious Society of the Daughters of Saint Paul, or DSP opened its first house in India ... continue reading


China takes fight to internet! Begins banning mail-order bride websites Watch

Image of Chinese and Cambodian authorities are targeting bride-buying websites in a new anti-human-trafficking initiative, aimed at preventing the exploitation of women from poorer countries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Online bride-shopping websites are being targeted by Chinese and Cambodian authorities in a new anti-human-trafficking initiative, aimed at preventing the exploitation of women from poorer countries. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "We support the crackdown and ... continue reading


QUITE A BOAST! North Korea has 'the world's most advantageous human rights system,' leaders say Watch

Image of North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Il poses for a photo as he oversees a tactical rocket firing drill last June.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Widely regarded as the most oppressive government on the face of the Earth, a report from North Korean officials heralds that the nation has "the world's most advantageous human rights system." The international community largely scoffed at this bold, ... continue reading


All Asia Pacific News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Job 9:1-12, 14-16
1 Job spoke next. He said:2 Indeed, I know ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 88:10-11, 12-13, 14-15
10 Do you work wonders for the dead, can shadows rise ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 9:57-62
57 As they travelled along they met a man on the road ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 1st, 2014 Image

St. Therese of Lisieux
October 1: Generations of Catholics have admired this young saint, called ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter