The search queries in the Philippines related to violence against women and children (VAWC) and sexual, physical, psychological violence rose by 63 percent during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to GABRIELA.
“Violence against Filipino women is now at an all-time high. As the pandemic and the economic crisis rage on, so does the abuse and violence faced by Filipino women,” GABRIELA Secretary-General Joms Salvador said during a Pandesal Forum on Friday, Nov. 19.
Salvador highlighted how drastically cases have evolved during the pandemic.
“In GABRIELA alone, about three to five women who are victims of VAWC approach us each day seeking help,” she noted.
“Correspondence is especially difficult on the side of the victims, as they are forced to communicate and clandestinely narrate their harrowing experiences because of the lockdowns,” Salvador added.
Many of the women cited joblessness and ensuing economic hardships during the pandemic as factors to the worsening abuse they face at home, according to Salvador.
“Even in the online landscape, a study revealed that search queries in the Philippines related to VAWC rose by 63 percent during the pandemic. That begs the question: why are Filipinos now suddenly looking up terms related to VAWC online?” she added.
“In our view, this suggests a rising wave of VAWC victims who wish to seek help, but either is unsure of which first steps to take, or are too paralyzed by pandemic restrictions from seeking help.”
GABRIELA called on the government to use its machinery and mandate to implement urgent measures to bridge the difficulty of VAWC victims in seeking help and to provide actual services for them.
The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) also noted that before the pandemic, it is estimated that one in three women experienced physical or sexual violence by mostly an intimate partner.
However, with the ongoing health crisis, the threats of VAWC have been exacerbated. There has also been an increase in calls to domestic violence helplines in many countries.