By Chito Chavez
After receiving reports of the rising number of domestic violence incidents during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Quezon City government said on Monday it has re-opened its protection center for gender-based violence and abuse victims.
Mayor Joy Belmonte said the decision to reopen the center stemmed from reports indicating that around 602 people, or an average of eight people a day in the country, were raped from March 17 to May 23.
She noted that the QC Protection Center (QCPC) will begin serving walk-in clients starting this week, particularly women, children, and members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community who have experienced violent and harassment spells.
Expressing deep concern, Belmonte saw the need to reopen the protection center to address the problems concerning gender violence.
The center located in the Quezon City General Hospital (QCGH) compound in Barangay Bahay Toro was temporarily shut down by the local government due to the pandemic.
However, Belmonte noted “it continues to perform its mandate by accepting inquiries and complaints through its e-mail ([email protected]), social media account and through Hotline 122 for immediate action’’.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that incidents of violence against women have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic because they have more time at home and also due to rising stress, isolation from social support network, and limited access to critical services.
“We need to provide vulnerable sectors of society an avenue where they can seek assistance against any form of violence and harassment, most especially now that they are frequently at home due to the modified enhanced community quarantine,” said Belmonte.
The QCPC was established during Belmonte’s term as vice mayor, through Ordinance No SP-2191 in 2012, acting as a one-stop-shop crisis center for victims of violence, harassment, and abuse.
It provides free legal, medical, and psychological assistance and intervention, among others, for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual harassment.
The QCPC was recently certified by the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) as a Gender and Development (GAD) Local Learning Hub (LLH) in 2019.