DSWD notes rise in domestic violence cases in Eastern Visayas during pandemic
TACLOBAN CITY—The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Eastern Visayas has reported an increase in the number of domestic violence cases involving women and children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data from the DSWD showed that the region recorded last year a total of 567 domestic violence cases that ranged from physical abuse, acts of lasciviousness, sexual harassment and rape.
Gilberto Villamor, regional gender and development focal person, said the number of domestic violence cases during the second quarter of last year climbed to 309 cases compared to only 23 cases reported during the first quarter of the year.
“Cases of domestic violence became more rampant during the second quarter last year as it was during this period when restrictions were imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Villamor said.
The number of cases could be higher as some of the victims did not report their abuse to the authorities due to the lockdown, he added.
“The perpetrators of these crimes are just within the family—fathers, grandfathers, even uncles. The victims were helpless and remained silent,” Villamor said.
Most of the cases recorded by the DSWD were reported by relatives of the victims or by the victims themselves after they were convinced to do so by relatives and friends, officials said.
“That is why we at the DSWD are advocating that domestic violence is not a private issue but is a public crime. Victims should report it to the police,” he added.
The restriction on the movement of the people, coupled with stress and economic problems, were among the reasons cited by Villamor for the surge in domestic violence in Eastern Visayas.
Villamor said their office was providing not only psychosocial intervention to victims but also legal services for those who wanted to file cases.
He, however, lamented that there were few victims who chose to pursue the complaints they filed.
“There were instances when our social welfare officers helped them in filing a case against perpetrators. However, the victims chose not to pursue the case either because they were afraid or they decided to forgive the perpetrators,” Villamor said.
Police Lt. Col. Ma. Bella Rentuaya, information officer of the Philippine National Police in Eastern Visayas, said they have been conducting an education campaign to address violence against women and children.
The program they call “Project Juana” aims to protect women against violence and assist them in going after their perpetrators.
The DSWD encouraged local governments to activate and heighten the barangays’ respective councils on women and children to help end the cycle of violence.
“We call on the public to be vigilant and report cases of all forms of violence involving women and children,” the department said. INQ
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