Pandemic ‘silenced’ Zamboanga’s abused women, kids, groups say | Inquirer News
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Pandemic ‘silenced’ Zamboanga’s abused women, kids, groups say

/ 05:00 AM November 05, 2021

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Loida, a 30-year-old mother of three, said she and her children endured the constant beatings of her husband in the last several months because they depended on him for survival.

She lost her job last year when sales of a hardware store where she was working nosedived, forcing its owner to cut on personnel.

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“I have no choice, I am jobless; if we separate, it will be much more difficult for my kids,” Loida said in Chavacano.

During the pandemic, her husband’s alcohol drinking worsened, and so did his fits of violence. From being slapped, Loida also gets kicks from her husband.

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“Even our children are also hit if he asks for something not given right away,” Loida said.

In June last year, she nearly reported her husband’s abuses to the police, but quarantine restrictions prevented her from doing so. “What we did was hide with relatives nearby, until my husband was sober,” Loida said.

As part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the local government has regulated the movement of residents in the city. Only one person per household is allowed to go out for three days in a week. A complete lockdown is imposed on Sundays, save for front-liners.

Domestic violence

Raquel Olivio, president of Organización de las Mujeres of Zamboanga City, said they documented a number of women experiencing “silent cries” inside their homes amid the pandemic.

Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance Inc., according to Olivio, found that wives, who were mainly dependent on their husbands’ income, were greatly affected by domestic issues which were made more pronounced by financial problems.

Tumaga village chief Jacqueline Lim said the number of reported cases of violence against women and children (VAWC) had decreased during the pandemic.

“I am not saying there were few cases, perhaps, reporting is fewer because of the pandemic. The victims could not go out on the day they were physically abused because of quarantine pass restrictions,” Lim said.

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She said victims would usually lose interest to follow up on their cases after these were recorded at the barangay office.

“Some women don’t report [abuses] because of the [lengthy process],” Lim noted.

If they file a complaint, one has to undergo a medical examination aside from reporting to the barangay office and the police.

“This takes a lot of time, and if the victim is a working woman, this will affect her source of [income]. So, many women endure the pain in silence rather than go through the process,” Lim said.

Police Lt. Agnes Miro, spokesperson for the Zamboanga City police, admitted that fewer VAWC cases had been reported to them.

The city police recorded 926 cases in 2019 before the pandemic struck. The number of cases went down to 333 in 2020, and 143 from January to October this year.

Miro said the restricted movement of people had affected the reporting of abuses.

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, pandemic domestic violence, quarantine restrictions, Violence Against Women and Children, Zamboanga City
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