Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte encourages women, children, and members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) who have been victims of physical, sexual, or any kind of abuse to reach out to the city government and ask for help.
“Tumawag kayo, magsumbong kayo sa amin wag kayo matakot, tumawag kayo sa 122, magsumbong kayo sa VAWC (violence against women and their children) desk sa inyong barangay kung may access sa barangay, kung bata naman meron tayong barangay council for the protection of children who are trained to look after our children and make sure that they are protected (Call us, report to us, do not be afraid, call 122 or report to the VAWC desk if you have access to your barangay, for the children we have a barangay council for the protection of children),” Belmonte told the Philippine News Agency on Saturday.
Belmonte said everyone should bear in mind that the home should be the safest place for a family and its members.
In case one feels endangered inside her or his own home, call for help immediately, she said.
She said violence committed against women, children, and the LGBTQ community is a public health issue in which the government can intervene, most especially when the safety of the person is compromised, even in their own homes.
On Friday, the Quezon City government formally opened its “Bahay Kanlungan”, a temporary shelter that will cater to women and children who have become victims of abuse and violence.
The shelter has a 60 bed-capacity, play, and activity area.
But more than the structures, those who will be accommodated to the Bahay Kanlungan will be given psychological interventions, will be able to talk with social workers, policemen and lawyers, in case they want to file charges against their perpetrators.
Abused victims can stay inside the shelter for 12 weeks while they undergo different processes.
Before going back to the community, the victim will also undergo a livelihood program.
“So far, based on our discussion, 12 weeks is the maximum that they could be accommodated and there will be programs there, for counseling, for therapy, but most especially for livelihood so that if they feel that they can no longer withstand the oppressive environment in which they live in with their spouses or partners, they can now have the opportunity towards economic empowerment, we will help them,” Belmonte said.
Being a women’s rights advocate, she said that what she wanted is a comprehensive program from the moment that the victim was abused until she was rehabilitated and may go back to society.
Spike of domestic violence
Belmonte said that she noted that during this Covid-19 pandemic, the number of domestic violence incidents has increased.
In the Philippines, she said there is a 20 percent increase in the number of cases and about 35 percent in other countries.
She said this may be due to the lockdowns imposed in different areas forcing married couples, or even partners to stay inside one roof 24/7.
An added factor is the inability to go out also because people were advised to stay home, and thus, the loss of a support system mainly because they are unable to see their friends or other relatives.
She said the absence of a functional reporting mechanism where people can report also contributed to the rise in domestic violence.
Because of this, Belmonte said she decided to strengthen the city’s 122 emergency hotlines and assigned dedicated call center agents who are trained and can respond to VAWC situations.
Belmonte is also bothered by the high number of abused children.
She said in the survey by the city government on their Facebook page, she was surprised by the numbers.
“Ang dami nating victims na mga bata, in fact, its very nakakabahala (Many children have become victims and its bothering), I believe that one of the rights of the child is the right to participate so we put out a survey on our FB page and website for children to answer questions pertaining basically to the pandemic, how they cope with the pandemic and we were surprised because several children, in fact many, almost a hundred that candidly expressed that they had experienced physical or sexual violence in their homes,” Belmonte said.
With the data on hand, Belmonte said that she is sending their social workers to visit these children and check on them.
These cases need to be addressed immediately, Belmonte said, because if not, it may cause negative repercussions on the child as he or she grows up.
“There is a correlation that children who are victims of violence or sexual abuse when they are young and they were not given the proper therapy, they may end up becoming perpetrators themselves when they grow up. For that not to happen, we have to intervene and make sure that our women and children are safe for a safer city in the future,” she said.
Belmonte said the Quezon City Protection Center is open for anyone who needs help.
They may be reached by sending them a message through their FB page or call 8863-0800 loc 618 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call the QC Helpline 122.
SOURCE: PHILIPPINES NEWS AGENCY