The community quarantine may sound like a piece of cake for people who consider their house as a home – a place where someone feels safe and comfortable. For others, who are forced to stay with their abusers, it’s a whole different story.
Today, as we commemorate the Philippines’ 122nd Independence Day, I hope we can also lend a hand to people who are longing for freedom in their lives – freedom from violence, freedom from all types of abuses, and freedom from toxic relationships.
With COVID-19 forcing governments around the globe to mandate quarantine, countless women have found themselves trapped at home with their abusers. In the Philippines alone, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported 602 rape cases across the country from March 17 to May 23. With the lockdown effectively cutting off any means of help or escape, Avon recently ramped up help through their #IsolatedNotAlone campaign that gives victims of domestic violence access to the support and safety resources they sorely need. However, they can’t do it alone. Here are little things that we can do on our own:
Do not turn a blind eye on people who might need help. There are times that victims end up being silenced by fear. We can serve as their voice and help them escape their current situation.
2. Call for help
Ask for help from agencies that can mediate immediately. There are lawyers and organizations from different parts of the Philippines who have pledged to help end violence against women and girls.
You can refer to the helplines listed below:
3. Educate yourself and people around you
Just yesterday, a Facebook post made by the Lucban Municipal Police Station made rounds on social media due to their call for women to stop wearing short clothes in order to prevent sex crimes. No statement or clarification has been published on their social media page as of this posting, but the original material has already been taken down. According to an interview with Rappler, the team has apologized for their “mistake”.
Since we’re already talking about abuse, let me remind you that rape will not exist without the existence of rapists. People get raped no matter what they’re wearing – even newborn babies get sexually abused! Now, you wouldn’t ask a baby what she was wearing, right?? It’s never right to blame the victims when we should be going after the perpetrators. Continue to call out and educate others when needed.
We need to continue to educate ourselves and the people around us, especially now that misogyny has reached a whole new level in the Philippines. There are online discussions about the topic, similar to the recent #SpeakOut Online Tribe Meet Up led by Avon Philippines a She Talks Asia, which you can also watch this Saturday (June 20, 2020) from 4 PM to 5:30 PM at www.facebook.com/AvonPhilippines and www.facebook.com/SheTalksAsia.
The said talk includes an insightful panel discussion presenting insights on the issue; possible courses of action; as well as, the proper channels for people everywhere to help. Included in the speakers are gender equality advocate and 2005 Nobel Prize nominee Sen. Risa Hontiveros, journalist and Pulitzer fellow Ana Santos, and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Luna Legal Resource for Women and Children Atty. Romeo Cabarde, Jr.
4. Support organizations with this cause
If you haven’t noticed yet, I have been sharing posts about the Avon Foundation for Women for quite some time now. Aside from providing Filipinas, popularly known as “Avon Ladies”, with job opportunities, Avon has also issued P4.5 Million back in May to support local non-government organizations providing front-line services such as helplines and refuge.
Their 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 MAKABABAYING AKSYON (IMA) Foundation. The donation is part of the $1 Million total fund that provides aid for over 250,000 at-risk women and children affected by rapidly rising domestic abuse rates in 37 countries.
Share the word about their projects when you can or volunteer in their projects!
5. Never invalidate what people are going through
“I’ve had it worse when I was still a kid.”
“You have to adjust, that’s just how men are.”
“Why are you afraid? It’s your fault that you ended up like that.”
These are just some of the statements that irk me whenever I hear about abuses. In my opinion, it’s better to shut up if you’re going to say something like the statements above than add to the pain that victims continuously feel. If you have nothing better to say, at least refer the victims to the proper channels where they can receive proper aid. Women deserve to be respected and protected.
There are numerous ways to help, but the simplest step is to never turn a blind eye on abuses. We can all help in our own little ways! You can also read more about this at www.avonworldwide.com. Should you know or suspect anyone who may need support against domestic violence, especially during these uncertain times, contact the numbers that we’ve shared above.