By Czarina Nicole Ong Ki
With everybody staying at home because of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has warned that there is already a reported increase in the number of online violence against women and girls.
CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that concerned individuals have reported to the Commission that there is an alarming prevalence of online sexual harassment in different social media platforms.
“As the Gender Ombud in the country, we call out any form of violence against women and girls, may it be online or offline,” she said.
While online technology is a wonderful tool that helps friends and family connect during this difficult time, De Guia said it can also bring with it the potential to carry out harmful actions, including peer-to-peer online cyber violence against women and girls (VAWG).
De Guia lamented that in Facebook alone, there are existing private groups where members post and circulate compromising materials without the consent of one of the involved parties, such as explicit videos and photos depicting sexual activity or promiscuity.
“More often than not, ex-partners of involved women are the perpetrators,” she said.
The Commission had earlier expressed its approval of House Bill No. 5869 which will expand the coverage of Republic Act (RA) No. 9262, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, by protecting them from all forms of electronic abuse.
Not only will House Bill No. 5869 enumerate and define the forms of electronic violence, but it will also strengthen laws to protect women and children from online abuse, stalking, exploitation, and entitles victims of abuse to receive psychological and medical counseling and livelihood assistance from the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).