MANILA, Philippines – Throughout the lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, government officials have never failed to remind the public to stay home to keep safe from the virus. But what happens when home is not a safe place?
Watchdog groups have warned of an increase in domestic violence and online sexual exploitation of children due to stay-at-home measures. Children are also in danger of being abused by authorities when they are caught violating quarantine measures. (WATCH: Minors in Laguna ordered to reenact quarantine offenses on camera)
However, numbers from the Philippine Commission on Women show that reported crimes against women and children dropped in the first month and a half of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures in Luzon and in other areas in the country.
This may imply another troubling reality: women and children may have a more difficult time reporting cases of abuse. (READ: During coronavirus lockdown: Abused women, children more vulnerable)
Were our social services prepared to still address abuse and violence against women and children even in a crisis situation?
Rappler explores the issue with Wilma Bañaga, child protection advisor for Save the Children Philippines. Bañaga says there is a great need for social services to operate unhampered even during a pandemic. One way is through aggressive information dissemination on who to contact when victim-survivors need help.
Reporting abuses can be especially difficult for girls and other children who have limited access to phones and technology. In cases like these, Bañaga calls on ordinary people like neighbors to be proactive in monitoring people and children at risk whenever possible.
Making Space is Rappler’s podcast on gender, health, education, social services, and everything in between. – Rappler.com
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