Deputy Speaker and Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar has sought an investigation into the surge in the cases of gender-based violence during the pandemic and called for immediate measures to protect women and children.
In filing House Resolution 1581, Villar said the rise in reported cases of violence against women and children during the pandemic is alarming.
“We need to tackle this issue as this seems to be neglected and victims are left with their abusers at home. We need to also determine what are the possible and immediate measures to mitigate the effects of violence and strengthen support services for the victims,” Villar said.
Official reported figures of gender-based abuse could also mean that victims were having a hard time reporting the incidents to authorities as victims could be “discouraged by limited mobility and absence of public transportation,” Villar said.
Trapped at home during lockdown, several researches suggest that harassment and sexual violence of women and children is on the rise during and after any large crisis or disaster. Experts describe this as a pandemic within a pandemic.
The Philippine Commission on Women recorded 13,923 cases of violence against women and children from the start of the lockdown last March 15, 2020 up to November 30, 2020. Of the reported cases, a total of 4,747 were cases of abuse against children.
According to the latest National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority, only one out of three Filipino women who have experienced abuse sought help to stop the abuse.
The statistics of victims coming forward to report instances of abuse show the weakness in enforcement despite several laws that were approved to protect women and children. These include Republic Act No. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 to address all forms of abuse and violence against women and children, RA 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 and RA 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act were enacted to ensure protection of women, discourage any form of violence against them and penalize unlawful acts.
“We have to spread awareness that reporting incidents of abuse is crucial to reducing cases especially in difficult times like the pandemic as people have limited person-to-person access,” said Villar. ###