Exclusive: Twitter rolls out gender-based violence search prompt in Filipino

Published July 6, 2020, 4:44 PM

by Jessica Pag-iwayan

This is to help women and children fight this ‘shadow pandemic’

Data has shown that since there has been a spike in gender-based violence among women and children since the community quarantine started. In a report to Congress, President Rodrigo Duterte said that since the lockdown started, there have been around 4,000 related cases reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP). 

“As of June 4, 2020, the PNP has recorded a total of 1,945 cases of violence against women and 1,754 cases of violence against children since the implementation of the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine),” he says.

The shadow pandemic 

This alarming situation is not isolated in our country. As everyone is confined in their respective houses, women and children are forced to be at home with their abusers. According to UN Women report, “globally, 243 million women and girls aged 15-49 have been subjected to sexual/and or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months,” and this number is likely to increase in the coming days. 

To emphasize the seriousness of the situation, UN Women even named this as “the shadow pandemic.” 

To help fight shadow pandemic, social media platform Twitter has rolled out a gender-based violence search prompt in different languages, including Filipino. This is designed to help women and children seek help online in a language they can understand. 

In an exclusive interview with Manila Bulletin LifestyleMonrawee Ampolpittayanant, public policy manager of Twitter in Southeast Asia, explains what this new feature is all about and how users can access it.

#ThereIsHelp: A collaboration with PCW and WCC 

According to Monrawee, the company has partnered with Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and Women’s Care Center (WCC) in rolling out this search prompt, making sure that searchers or users will be led to right organizations that could help and save them.

“When people search on Twitter for Tagalog keywords associated with gender-based violence, for example ‘karahasan sa pamilya’ (violence in the family) or ‘karahasan sa mga kababaihan (violence against women),’ they will see a notification in Tagalog directing them to the hotlines of local organizations where they can seek help, together with a list of NGOs that can provide the support they need,” she explains. “This new dedicated search prompt is our response to the rising number of gender-based violence cases reported and shared by our partners worsened by the widespread lockdown measures introduced during the pandemic.”

Twitter search prompt in Filipino

In this collaboration, PCW helps the social media platform in coordinating with different government agencies that handle women and gender equality concerns. Meanwhile, WCC provides hotlines and support group for the victims where they can get group counseling, education programs, and skills training.

“At this stage, our primary focus is to enable and support our local partners as much as we can to reach those who are really in need. We would also like to call on influential women leaders, policy makers, and media outlets to help us spread the word,” she says. This feature is available in 12 countries across the Asia-Pacific region, making the said social media platform the first technology company to launch a dedicated gender-based violence search prompt for hotlines and support in local languages in APAC.

“Violence against women and girls is pervasive, but it is widely under reported. As lockdowns and stay-at-home orders are getting prolonged by countries around the world, including the Philippines, to contain the spread of Covid-19, women with violent partners increasingly find themselves isolated from the people and resources that can help them,” Monrawee continues. “We hope that by working with the PCW and WCC, we can shine a light on the gender-based violence and make Filipinos aware of the help and support services that are readily available to them.”

Aside from the gender-based violence search prompt, Twitter also has other search prompts for other important issues, such as child sexual exploitation, mental health and suicide prevention, vaccination, and Covid-19.