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Unsafe at home during the lockdown

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WHILE the recent lockdown restrictions were necessary to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and were meant to keep people safe within their homes, many people found themselves unsafe as they were locked in with their abusers with little recourse.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte reported in early June that there were over 3,600 cases of violence against women and children since the lockdown started in March.

The harrowing statistic is what led Avon Philippines to create the “Isolated Not Alone” campaign to “give victims of domestic violence access to the support and safety resources they sorely need,” according to a release.

The campaign’s main event will be held on June 20, 4 p.m., on the She Talks Asia and Avon Philippines Facebook pages where She Talks Asia co-founder Iza Calzado and corporate social responsibility leader for Avon Philippines Ces Francisco will discuss the campaign and how important it is to end violence against women and girls

“Aside from being a very huge health crisis, COVID-19 has also become a humanitarian crisis, the lockdown, which is our solution to flattening the curve, has placed many women and girls in danger,” Ms. Francisco said in an online media event on June 11, highlighting the importance of the campaign.

Also joining the talk on June 20 is Avon’s ambassador for violence against women Ruffa Guttierez who will talk about the importance of speaking out.

“This is a very, very difficult situation and I cannot really imagine being that woman who is locked inside the house [with their abuser] and doesn’t have any means [to call for help], but I would like to encourage that person through this forum that they speak out, to reach out,” Ms. Calzado said during the event.

The June 20 event will also include a panel discussion that will present insights on the issue, possible courses of action, and proper channels to call for help and to help. The panel will include gender equality advocate and 2005 Nobel Prize nominee Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros-Baraquel, journalist and Pulitzer fellow Ana P. Santos, and Chair of the board of trustees of Luna Legal Resource for Women and Children Romeo Cabarde, Jr. She Talks Asia co-founder Lynn Pinugu will moderate the panel discussion.

In the forum Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel will talk about what domestic violence survivors can expect “once they successfully contact the authorities,” she said during the media event, adding that she used “successfully” purposefully because she acknowledges that restrictions on movement affect whether someone can even contact the authorities.

“As a starter, we need to educate our women and make them believe that no woman deserves to be treated violently or in a very abusive way… so we have to make them believe that as a woman and as a person, they are entitled to all the human rights there is in the world and no one, even the person they love, has the right to hurt them, to violate them, or to abuse them,” Mr. Cabarde said.

He added that if “they can muster that belief” then it’s easier for them to “break the cycle of violence.”

Avon Philippines, through the Avon Foundation for Women, donated P4.5 million in May to support local non-government organizations providing front-line services such as helplines and refuges. The emergency grant recipients include Luna Legal Resource Center for Women and Children, Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE), Women’s Care Center Inc. (WCCI), and ING Mababaying Aksyon (IMA) Foundation. The donation is part of a $1-million fund that provides aid for over 250,000 at-risk women and children affected by rapidly rising domestic abuse rates in 37 countries.

The Isolated Not Alone discussion will be held on June 20, 4 p.m. and can be viewed on www.facebook.com/AvonPhilippines and www.facebook.com/SheTalksAsia.

Should you know or suspect anyone who may need support against domestic violence, especially during these uncertain times, contact the following NGOs:

LUNA LEGAL RESOURCE CENTER FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN

GENDER WATCH AGAINST VIOLENCE AND EXPLOITATION (GWAVE)

WOMEN’S CARE CENTER INC. (WCCI)

ING MAKABABAYING AKSYON (IMA) FOUNDATION

Zsarlene B. Chua





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