DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Gabriela Women’s Party said the government’s latest reports on domestic violence during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) may be underreported and shows programs on protecting women are lacking.
The Philippine National Police recorded as of June 4 a total of nearly 3,700 cases of violence against women and children (VAWC), with 1,495 cases against women and more on children with 1,754.
This was part of the President’s weekly report to Congress on the status of government programs on the pandemic.
Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas said the figures could be much higher than what was reported, given that victims are afraid to report the cases when the perpetrators are with them in their homes.
“It will never be easy for victims to report to the police or the barangay given the climate of fear inside their homes, and the highly restricted conditions such as curfew and limited quarantine pass mostly issued to their husbands as the head of the family,” said Brosas.
The lawmaker points out that the government was focused on a “haphazard imposition of the lockdown” and failed to implement VAWC protection mechanisms among barangays and police stations.
“There are reports that women’s desk officers at the local level were mobilized for health and social amelioration programs instead of engaging in a proactive approach to reach out to victims locked up in their homes,” she added.
Brosas said women’s groups have raised alarm of VAWC since March, citing government reports that domestic violence occurs every 10 minutes, but only one out of three cases have been reported to authorities based on the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey.
They also point out a report from the PNP Women and Children Protection Center last year that the cases are much higher than what is reported now. The Center reported 9,935 VAWC cases from April to June 2019.
Gabriela Women’s Party said they still continue to assist women suffering from VAWC through their Labanan ang Abuso online and offline campaigns.
The Commission on Human Rights also launched an online portal last April for the public to report gender-based violence (GBV) cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that during this pandemic, referral networks and access to legal services have been disrupted. (davaotoday.com)