Commission on women notes underreporting of abuse cases due to fear, pandemic restrictions

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2020 01:27 PM | Updated as of Dec 12 2020 02:40 PM

Commission on women notes underreporting of abuse cases due to fear, pandemic restrictions 1
Amy, a domestic violence victim during the COVID-19 lockdown, contemplates outside her house in Smokey Mountain in Manila on May 23, 2020. Bernice Beltran, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Some 14,000 cases of violence against women and children (VAWC) have been reported since the start of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown, a year-on-year dip that may be due to underreporting and fear from victims, the director of the Philippine Commission on Women said Saturday. 

In a public press briefing, PCW director Kristine Josefina Balmes said they tallied 13,932 VAWC cases from March 15 - the start of community quarantine - to November 30 this year. 

Central Visayas tallied the highest number of cases per region, "thrice" as many as in Metro Manila, Balmes said. 

She said the significantly lower number of cases reported this year may be because victims were scared to go to authorities.

"Sinabi ko talagang medyo malaki ang ibinaba ng kaso natin. Pero nasabi po na isa sa pinakarason na di nakakapagcomplain ay dahil po sila ay mababa ang help-seeking behavior sa Pilipinas. Isa sa 3 babae na nakakaranas ng karahasan ay nagre-report," Balmes said. 

(There was a significant decrease but it has also been said that one of the reasons why people have not been complaining is because help-seeking behavior is low among women, with only 1 of 3 women reporting their cases.) 

Quarantine restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has confined family members inside their homes, have also raised the incidence of hostility in households. 

Balmes also attributed misconceptions brought about by quarantine restrictions as a possible reason for underreported cases. 

"Siguro iniisip nila naiba na rin ang procedures ng pag-report. Pero tulad ng sabi ko kanina, 'yung mga may alam sa kaso ay maaaring mag-report," Balmes said. 

(They might be thinking that procedures in reporting might have changed. But like what I've said, people who know about the situation can report.)