SEN. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, citing concerns over a “surge in domestic violence,” pressed authorities on Monday to closely monitor and strictly enforce the law against violence on women and children.
“As countries under Covid-19 lockdowns see a surge in domestic violence, the Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Their Children must ensure that the implementation of Republic Act 9262, or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, remains in full force,” Gatchalian said.
The senator recalled that prior to the spike in the cases of Covid-19 in the country, the Center for Women’s Resources in early March reported that violence against women continue to be among the issues that haunt women and children.
In a news statement, Gatchalian noted that the training institution for women had already raised the alarm as recent data on violence against women and children (VAWC) showed that at least one woman, or child, is abused every 10 minutes in the country.
The senator confirmed there were 9,935 reported cases from April to June 2019 based on data on nationwide violence against women and children recorded by the Philippine National Police-Women and Children Protection Center (PNP-WCPC).
“Quarantine measures may lead to a surge in domestic violence and make it harder for victims to go out of their homes to seek help,” Gatchalian warned.
To drive home the point, the senator cited, for instance, that domestic abuses in Paris had jumped 36 percent and 32 percent elsewhere in France since the country began a nationwide lockdown on March 17, adding that “the cases included two murders.”
“In Malaysia, the Women and Family Development Ministry’s helpline for women and children received 1,893 calls in nine days or a spike of 57 percent since the partial lockdown in the country started,” he added.
Even as the Philippines was placed under strict community quarantine, Gatchalian stressed that government agencies concerned must continue to provide protection to abused women and children.
“The violence against women and children should not be allowed to worsen, more so that we are in the midst of a crisis,” he stressed. The senator stressed the key role of the barangay officers since they are “often nearest to victims and witnesses of abuse.”
“Under the Protocol for Case Management of Child Victims of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation drafted by the Committee for the Special Protection of Children, barangays must have help desks that will monitor cases of child abuse and violence against women,” he said, adding, “Barangays are also mandated to coordinate with social workers, health officials, and women and children protection units to give intervention and assistance to the victims.”
At the same time, Gatchalian prodded the National Bureau of Investigation’s Violence Against Women and Children Desk and the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center to “be more vigilant and accessible.”
Image credits: AP/Pat Roque