AN activist joins a rally on Oct. 14, 2020 to protest the delay in granting a three-day furlough to a jailed fellow activist whose infant daughter died in hospital. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINE justice system must improve in terms of access and provisions specific to women’s needs, considering the physical, social, and economic vulnerabilities they face, according to the United Nations Women.

“It is important for society as a whole to understand and address women’s vulnerability to violence and ensure their economic and social empowerment,”

National Project UN Women’s Access to Justice Programme Analyst Jona Marie Ang said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Access to justice means that women and girls are able to easily obtain justice, health, and social services, and live a life free from violence,” she said.

Ms. Ang also noted that facilities for women suspects and offenders “are primarily built for men, so their distinct needs — such as sexual and reproductive health services — tend to be overlooked.”

The UN Women Philippines has launched the Access to Justice Programme (A2J) and Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) Programme to advocate for the creation of an environment that enables women to seek and access justice without fear of victim blaming, re-traumatization, and retaliation.

“Studies have shown that poverty not only makes women more vulnerable to violence but also drives them to engage in illegal activities,” Ms. Ang said.

“Many women are detained for petty offenses and have also been found to have previously experienced different forms of abuse, but they face penalties that are disproportionate to their crime and background.”

Meanwhile, a support group for political prisoners on Tuesday urged a Manila trial court to reduce the bail set for three detained activists, including one whose infant daughter died in a hospital while she was in jail.

“The decision of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 47 allowing detained activists to post bail is bittersweet because it is long overdue, but the amount attached to their freedom is excessive that it becomes another injustice,” Fides M. Lim, convenor for Kapatid, said in a statement.

Reina Mae Nasino and Alma Moran were ordered to pay a total of P420,000 while Ram Carlo Bautista was ordered to pay P570,000, all for charges on illegal possession of firearms.

The court on Monday granted the petition of the three activists to post bail, citing the government prosecutors’ failure to prove their guilt for the crimes. They were arrested in 2019.

Ms. Lim said the decision showed that many political prisoners were detained on trumped-up charges.

In August, the Court of Appeals voided search warrants against the three activists due to inconsistencies in the forms.

The Manila court rejected Ms. Nasino’s plea in 2020 to take care of her daughter at the hospital or prison nursery until she turned a year old. She was given three days to attend her daughter’s wake and burial. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and John Victor D. Ordoñez