Grace worried over hike in domestic abuse cases amid virus

Sen. Grace Poe has raised alarm over the increasing number of domestic abuse cases amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Grace Poe

Speaking at the National Women’s Month celebration of the Philippine Army Gender and Development Office on Thursday, Poe said the COVID-19 pandemic has not only claimed lives and affected the economy, but also created a "climate of fear" among women and children who are suffering from physical, psychological, and sexual abuse.

She cited a report from the Executive department stating that over 3,600 complaints of violence against women and children have been reported to authorities since Luzon and other areas were placed under enhanced community quarantine last March.

The Department of Justice also noted a surge in child exploitation incidence during the lockdowns.

"Ang pagdiriwang ng Women’s Month ay nagsisilbing paalala sa lahat na basta’t may nadedehado, kailangan pa nating magtrabaho para maging mas makatarungan ang sistema (The women's month celebration serves as a reminder that as long as there is abuse, we should keep working to make the system just). Paano natin masasabi na tayo ay isang bansa na maunlad at malaya, kung mayroon pa sa atin na hindi malaya (How can we say that we are in a free country when some people are still held captive)?" she said.

"As we battle the pandemic, let us ensure that the safety of women and children in their homes comes foremost," she added.

Poe said there should be a quick response to situations of abuse, saying delays could lead to "irreparable harm."

"There is a saying that the personal is political. The oppression or harm that women may experience in their private lives must be addressed just as seriously as national issues," she said.

"It is imperative that we put an end to domestic violence and view women as human beings who deserve love and respect.  Our country will not be able to achieve genuine sustainable development if only half the population is working at full capacity or is benefitting from economic progress,” she added.

Poe commended the Philippine Army for its plan to establish a gender-based violence and child-minding facility to cater to victims of abuse.