Abuse victims can ask for help via 911
MANILA, Philippines — Victims of gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women (VAW) can ask for help through the Emergency 911 National Hotline, an official of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) announced on Tuesday, International Women’s Day.
“If before there were only five cases that 911 responds to which are bombing, terrorism, fire, any calamities, and physical or human emergency, now, the sixth case they would attend to is GBV and VAW,” Sandra Montano, chair of PCW, said during a Department of Education program marking the occasion.
“If you are too shy to go to the barangay or the police station, you can call 911 right away,” Montano said.
The initiative — the product of a joint memorandum circular among the Departments of the Interior and Local Government, Justice, and Social Welfare and Development — was launched in December 2021 during an 18-day campaign to end violence against women.
Abuse victims or their family, friends and witnesses can call the hotline through landline or mobile phone. A 911 telecommunicator will gather personal details that will remain confidential and ask questions to help determine the services needed by the caller.
45% exposed to violence
Data from the United Nations Women report in 2021 showed that 45 percent of women were exposed directly or indirectly to at least one form of VAW since the pandemic started.
The two-phased research was conducted from April to September 2021 in 13 selected countries with a total of 16,154 women respondents.
In the Philippines, the PCW said that a total of 18,945 VAW cases were reported to the police from March 2020 to August 2021.
The figure, however, is believed to be bigger as many cases of VAW and GBV go unreported.
The two highest officials of the land, meanwhile, issued separate statements to mark International Women’s Day.
President Duterte lauded the country for being a “shining beacon of gender equality and women empowerment in the world” but said there was still room for improvement.
According to him, he was proud of how far women in the Philippines have come, which underscores their important role in nation-building.
But while there is a growing consciousness on equality and women have been breaking the glass ceiling, more can be done, Mr. Duterte said.
“So let us all come together in building a country where no one is left behind and everybody has the capacity to succeed,” he added.
‘Beacons of strength’
Vice President Leni Robredo, on other hand, urged Filipinos to rally as many women and allies together to “bang against the glass ceiling” and to show that women can be exemplars, too.
In a statement, the only female presidential candidate and longtime advocate for women’s rights noted how times of crisis “have always brought out the best in women.”
During the pandemic, women leaders “stepped up, acted decisively, and provided some of the surest leadership amid this unprecedented crisis,” she said.
“Whether as mothers, as professionals, as public servants, or while juggling multiple roles, women have stood as beacons of strength, direction and hope in the face of numerous challenges,” Robredo said.
—WITH REPORTS FROM KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING AND LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
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