Press Release
July 9, 2020

Poe: Violence against women and children must cease - online and offline

As millions take refuge in their homes to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Sen. Grace Poe deplored reports that domestic abuse is flourishing in the conditions created by the pandemic.

"Today, we face an enemy that is more dangerous and powerful than many we have faced before. We are in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed many lives, crippled our economy, and created a climate of fear," Poe said in her keynote address during the National Women's Month Celebration of the Office of the Army Gender and Development (GAD).

With the imposition of the lockdown, women and children could be trapped in homes they share with the very people causing their physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

"As we battle the pandemic, let us ensure that the safety of women and children in their homes comes foremost," the chairperson of the public services committee said.

A report to Congress from the Executive department earlier bared that over 3,600 complaints of violence against women and children have been reported to authorities since Luzon and other areas were placed under enhanced community quarantine last March.

The Department of Justice also noted that there had been more child exploitation materials coming from the Philippines since the lockdown began.

Poe emphasized the need for quick response to situations of abuse involving women and children as delays could mean irreparable harm.

"There is a saying that the personal is political. The oppression or harm that women may experience in their private lives must be addressed just as seriously as national issues," she said.

"It is imperative that we put an end to domestic violence and view women as human beings who deserve love and respect. Our country will not be able to achieve genuine sustainable development if only half the population is working at full capacity or is benefitting from economic progress," Poe stressed.

At the Senate, where there are only seven women out of the 24 senators, Poe steered the passage of substantial measures aimed at empowering women and children, such as RA 11148 or Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, which ensures access to healthcare and nutrition on the first 1000 days of a child.

She was also one of the authors of RA 11313 or Safe Spaces Act that fights against sexual harassment.

The senator said she would continue to press for the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Act, which seeks to eliminate discrimination in women in all forms.

Saying that boosting women's capacities include their economic empowerment, Poe noted that she also co-sponsored the joint resolution that increased the base pay of all military and uniformed personnel in government beginning January 2018.

Poe commended the Philippine Army for being the pioneer in establishing a GAD Office within the Armed Forces, which has now grown into 35 offices nationwide.

"Napaka-importante na mayroon tayong GAD Office sa bawat ahensya ng gobyerno. We need to create a culture of equality in the Philippines, and that starts with us public servants," she said.

Poe lauded the plan of the Army to establish a gender-based violence center which also doubles as a child-minding facility to cater to the needs of child-rearing personnel as well as personnel who are victims of gender-based violence.

"We need GAD Offices to ensure that our office policies are gender-sensitive, provide equal opportunities for advancement to men and women, and create a safe environment that is free of all forms of violence and harassment," Poe said.

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