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CHR admits fighting sexual violence harder with pandemic

/ 01:51 AM June 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Protecting potential victims of sexual violence, especially those living in areas affected by armed conflict, has been harder with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said.

CHR made this admission on Friday, June 19, in a series of tweets to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict — a campaign to stop the use of sexual violence in war-related crimes.

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According to the commission, the pandemic has made it hard for authorities like police officers to respond to such complaints — which was already a pressing problem even before the health crisis came.

“Ngayong patuloy ang banta ng Covid-19, mas nagiging mahirap ang pagbibigay tulong at proteksyon sa mga biktima ng ganitong mga pang-aabuso,” CHR said in a tweet.

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(Now that the threat of COVID-19 is still looming, it has become harder to help and protect the victims of these kinds of abuse.)

“Nananatiling limitado ang kapasidad ng mga awtoridad gaya ng law enforcement, health providers, at maging mga hukuman upang tugunan ang mga kaso ng sexual violence, sa loob o labas man ng digmaan,” they added.

(The capacity of authorities like in the case of law enforcement agencies, health providers, and even courts and the judiciary to respond to sexual violence reports — inside or outside the war zones — are still limited.)

Just recently, a report from President Rodrigo Duterte to Congress showed that over 3,600 complaints of violence against women and children have been reported to authorities since Luzon and other areas went under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) last March.

Amid this high reports, the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC) asked complainants, whose concerns were left unattended, to lodge separate complaints to their headquarters, while vowing to look into the allegations.

But WCPC chief Brig. Gen. Alessandro Abella also noted that there are instances where Women and Children Protection Desks were also unable to respond because of quarantine regulations and logistics shortages, like the lack of available transportation modes.

The increase in sexual violence was predicted by women and children rights advocates when the lockdowns started, as more potential victims are forced to stay at home to avoid local coronavirus transmissions.

To counter that, CHR launched a site where victims can report incidents, but also conceded emergency and pressing scenarios for police officers to respond.

The CHR said that no person should experience sexual-related violence, whether in areas of conflict or not.

“Walang sinuman ang dapat makaranas nito at kinakailangang magkaroon ng access sa iba’t ibang humanitarian assistance ang mga apektadong komunidad habang pinapanagot ang may sala,” CHR said.

(No one should experience this kind of abuse, and affected communities should be given access to various forms of humanitarian assistance while seeking accountability from the perpetrators of sexual violence.)

JPV

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TAGS: 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, CHR, Commission on Human Rights, COVID-19, GCQ, International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict Office, lockdown, nCoV update, Philippine news updates, sexual violence, VAWC, Violence Against Women and Children, Women and Children Protection Desks general community quarantine
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