Press Release
November 26, 2020


Sen. Grace Poe lamented that gender-based violence remains pervasive and could be further triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced many women to stay home to take care of the household while struggling to earn a living.

"The world is battling the COVID-19 virus, which has become one of the deadliest health pandemics. But there is another global pandemic, which also demands our immediate and full attention. Gender-based violence is a worldwide phenomenon that is estimated to affect one in three women in their lifetime," Poe said when she spoke before the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence at the Zonta Club of Greater Rizal II and at the 18th Day Campaign Against Gender-based Violence sponsored by the Embassy of Austria.

The senator cited the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey, which bared that one in four Filipino women aged 15-49 has experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence by their husband or partner.

"One of the gravest violations of human rights is violence against women and girls. It has a negative and long-term impact on the wellbeing of survivors, as well as their family and the larger community," Poe emphasized.

In a separate study, the UP Population Institute projected a 20-percent increase in domestic violence as women and girls find themselves trapped with their abusers in the COVID-19 lockdown.

"Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out either the best or worst among us," Poe said, warning that another pandemic would be in the offing within a pandemic if domestic violence against women is not urgently addressed.

"It is our responsibility to our daughters, mothers and sisters to create an environment that can protect them from any form of violence and abuse. Tinatawag nating 'ilaw ng tahanan' ang ating mga ina, kaya't tungkulin nating hindi magdilim ang kanilang liwanag," the senator added.

Poe noted that violence can also take place outside the home and can be perpetuated by state actors.

"Government regulation that borders on intimidation, and pronouncements which harass women journalists, is a form of violence," she said.

"Such form of violence is also a means of suppressing the truth. When dissent is silenced and the right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press is curtailed, the right of the people to information is undermined," Poe stressed.

Taking action to address gender-based violence, Poe has co-authored Republic Act No. 11313 or the "Safe Spaces Act, which aims to protect every individual from sexual harassment in private as well as public spaces, whether online or offline.

"Democracy works when we have an informed citizenry who can participate meaningfully in decision-making. We must work together towards establishing a culture of equality and respect for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, faith and race," she said.

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