By Charissa M. Luci-Atienza
Gabriela Women’s partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas has scored the government’s purported complacency in handling cases of violence against women and children.
She said the current administration failed to implement “effective measures” that would address the increasing cases of violence against women and children.
“While some local government units have implemented measures to deliver services to the victims of abuse, the national government still hasn’t provided effective measures to address the continuing increase of domestic violence cases in the country. What’s even more alarming is the Duterte administration is complacent amid the rising cases of abuse,” she said in a Viber message when asked to comment on the increasing cases of violence against women and children early this month.
“In fact, when several anonymous women spoke about the ‘sex-for-pass’ scheme perpetrated by the police, Malacañang seemed skeptical about the issue and asked women to report to the police instead of conducting an independent investigation,” Brosas pointed out.
In his 12th weekly report to Congress, President Duterte said around 4,260 “cases of violations” against women and children have been recorded since the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on the entire Luzon last March.
Of this number, he said 2,183 cases of violations were committed against women, while 2,077 cases involved children.
The Chief Executive was citing the Philippine National Police (PNP) data, as of June 11.
Brosas noted that since the start of the community quarantine, Gabriela Women’s Party has been calling for the barangays to activate their women’s desks even during the lockdown.
“In a House Committee hearing, we also called for the reactivation of women’s protection desks especially in barangays where VAWC (violence against women and children) desks were left unmanned because VAWC officers were tasked to conduct relief operations and distribution of cash aid,” she said.
“We also suggested that VAWC officers should be exempted from the curfew and other quarantine restrictions so victims can seek help any time and VAW service providers along with NGOs can conduct rescue and other services without getting penalized,” she added.
She also cited the need for LGUs to start an information drive as not everyone can access relevant information on VAWC online.
“We urge the government to strengthen the capacity of barangays to handle VAWC cases and address the safety needs and concerns of domestic violence and assault survivors as they become even more vulnerable because of the crisis,” Brosas said.
She also challenged the government to openly condemn victim-blaming which discourages victims to report and seek help.
“Instead of reinforcing rape culture, it should investigate and punish men in uniform who are involved in sexual exploitation of women and children,” she said.
It has been noted that the latest PNP figures on VAWC are 561 cases or 13.1 percent higher compared to 3,699 cases reported by the Chief Executive in his 11th report to Congress.