To empower women and children amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a barangay in Pasig City recently held two webinars on how women and children can protect themselves from abusers and online sexual predators.
Barangay San Antonio Chairman Raymond Lising said the webinar themes were “Equip the Women, Empower the Children” and “How to Protect our Children from Online Abusers.” Glenda Resurreccion, an advocate of sexual abuse awareness in the country, was the resource speaker.
Citing Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center data during the COVID-19 pandemic, Resurreccion said there are 804 reported cases from all over the country, pertaining to violations of eight laws: Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children; Anti-Rape; Acts of Lasciviousness; Concubinage; Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism; Anti-Trafficking in Persons; Anti-Sexual Harassment; and Safe Spaces law.
“During the pandemic, we have data showing the surge in the number of cases of violence against women basically due to COVID-related stress, unemployment, mental instability, anxiety , depression, among others,” the barangay chairman said in a statement.
Lising said that most of the victims of abuse and violence, according to studies, are women.
As such, he said the abuse may be in the form of physical and psychological and many women or wives are trapped in their homes by their abusers because of the lockdown.
Resurreccion also discussed how to prevent online sexual exploitation among children as they are usually the targets of sexual predators.
Despite the existence of laws against anti-trafficking and child pornography, she said cases of online sexual exploitation among children are still rampant nowadays. This is why, she said, the role of family is very essential to prevent online sexual exploitation. Strong parental guidance and supervision are needed to protect children from any form of exploitation.
Lising theorized that the lockdowns may have contributed to the surge in the number of sexual exploitations of children online, because of the increased and unstructured time online.
“As more children are usually surfing the Internet during this pandemic, we need to protect them from the dangers and risks of being abused. But the real challenge is for parents to guide and teach their kids not to be victims of online sexual exploitation,” he said.
According to the barangay chairman, they decided to conduct the webinars to create awareness and educate his constituents as he believes that community involvement is very important in battling the problem.
Lising said that Barangay San Antonio has been regularly conducting programs or counselling to prevent violence against women and children and they have Barangay 24/7 and VAWC hotline to report any case of domestic abuse and violence and online sexual exploitation.
“The lockdown should not make us lax on the child protection and safety of women and the barangay must step up awareness and education programs on this matter,” he ended.