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Pandemic curbed Filipinas’ access to gender-based support, violence desks – Oxfam

/ 01:59 PM November 25, 2021
Pandemic curbed Filipinas' access to gender-based support, violence desks – Oxfam

Illustration of sexual abuse

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinas had decreased access to gender-based violence desks and support services during the lockdowns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a gender snapshot survey conducted by Oxfam Pilipinas and its partner organizations.

The survey considered the insights of 279 respondents in selected areas across the National Capital Region, Eastern Visayas, Bicol Region, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

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“While 9% of the respondents said they had access to these reporting desks before the pandemic and a series of typhoons that hit their communities in 2020, only 3% said they still had access to the gender-based violence desks during and after the typhoons and the COVID-19 lockdowns,” Oxfam Pilipinas said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

Only four respondents noted that there was no change in the level of access to gender-based violence desks.

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Oxfam Pilipinas Gender Justice Advisor Jeanette Kindipan-Dulawan said the survey also showed that almost 48% of the respondents expressed concern about the lack of access to these reporting desks and support services.

“While we are focusing on protecting the population against the virus, we may be neglecting the most vulnerable members of our society, some of which may face higher risks of gender-based exploitation and abuse,” she said.

Kindipan-Dulawan added that national and local governments need to work harder to ensure the safety of women, girls, and non-binary people from domestic violence which may happen in their homes and communities.

Oxfam Pilipinas said the pandemic has “created a perfect storm” of social and personal anxiety, stress, economic pressure, social isolation, and rising alcohol and substance use, which has led to an increased number of incidents of domestic abuse.

According to a new report by Oxfam International, domestic violence hotlines in ten countries received more calls from survivors during the first few months of the lockdown.

“The data reveals a 25 to 111 percentage surge; in Argentina (25 percent), Colombia (79 percent), Tunisia (43 percent), China (50 percent), Somalia (50 percent), South Africa (69 percent), UK (25 percent), Cyprus (39 percent), Italy (73 percent) and the largest increase in Malaysia where calls surged by over 111 percent,” Oxfam Pilipinas said, citing the report.

For Oxfam International Executive Director Gabriela Bucher, the pandemic “has exposed the systematic failure of governments around the world to protect women and girls and LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and/or Questioning, and Asexual and/or Ally) people from violence against them– simply because of who they are.”

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