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FEATURED ARTICLE

RCMB-VIII Kicks-off 18-day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW)

by: Pamela R. Babalcon

The 18-day campaign runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 12 as declared by Proclamation No. 1172.  This year’s theme is “VAW-free community starts with me”.

As a supporter of the End VAW Campaign, RCMB-VIII lined up a series of activities aimed at creating and promoting awareness to end VAWC.

To start off, staff and personnel joined the Philippine Commission on Women’s (PCW) Virtual Kick-off Activity entitled “All aVAWt VAW” via Facebook Livestreaming where PCW Deputy Executive Director for Operations Ms. Ma. Kristine Josefina G. Balmes talked about “The Silent Pandemic: VAW in the midst of COVID-19”.

According to DED Balmes, there is a general assumption that VAW incidents kept increasing during the pandemic.  “There is a rise in the percentage of cases reported through calls in their national VAW helplines specially in Brazil, Singapore, and France,” she reported.  “In the case of the Philippines, there is a 33% drop in the reporting of VAW cases from March to October of 2020 compared to the data before the start of the pandemic,” she added.

Balmes attributed the drop to the restricted movement of communities, suspension of public transportation, victims being monitored by perpetrators as they are in confined living conditions, and difficulties in accessing VAW support through regular channels.

“At the onset of the pandemic, the PCW has assigned two dedicated mobile phones that serve as hotlines where VAW clients or their informants can call for assistance,” she shared.  “Victims and their informants are connected to proper authorities as necessary,” she added.

A discussion on RA 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act followed, where staff and personnel talked about the salient features of the law and how it differs from RA 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act.  VAW fliers will be distributed to walk in clients for the duration of the campaign.   The branch has also signed up for more virtual seminars with the PCW scheduled on the first two weeks of December 2020.