MANILA -- Amid reports of an increased number of domestic violence incidents during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the Quezon City government has reopened its protection center for victims of gender-based violence and abuse.

According to Mayor Joy Belmonte, the QC Protection Center will begin serving walk-in clients starting this week, particularly women, children and members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community who have experienced violence and harassment.

Sa pagdami ng kaso ng karahasan at pang-aabuso laban sa ating mga kababaihan, kabataan at miyembro ng LGBT community, nakita namin ang pangangailangan na muling buksan ang QCPC para matugunan ang problemang ito (With the increase in the number of incidents of abuse and harassment on women, children and members of the LGBT community, we saw the need to reopen the QCPC to address this problem)," Belmonte said in a press release.

The center, located within the Quezon City General Hospital (QCGH) compound in Barangay Bahay Toro, was temporarily shut down by the local government due to the pandemic.

However, it continues to perform its mandate by accepting inquiries and complaints through its e-mail ([email protected]), social media account and through Hotline 122 for immediate action.

Belmonte said the decision to reopen stemmed from news reports indicating that around 602 people, or an average of eight people a day across the country, were raped from March 17 to May 23.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also reported that incidents of violence against women have increased during the pandemic because they have more time at home and also due to rising stress, isolation from social support network and limited access to critical services.
Furthermore, a study conducted by the International Justice Mission (IJM) revealed that cases of internet-based sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines increased by 250 percent, from 23,333 in 2014 to 81,723 in 2017.

“We need to provide vulnerable sectors of society an avenue where they can seek assistance against any form of violence and harassment, most especially now that they are frequently at home due to the modified enhanced community quarantine,” Belmonte said.

The QCPC was established during Belmonte’s term as vice mayor, through Ordinance No SP-2191 in 2012, acting as a one-stop-shop crisis center for victims of violence, harassment and abuse.

It provides free legal, medical and psychological assistance and intervention, among others, for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual harassment.

The QCPC was recently certified by the Philippine Commission on Women as a Gender and Development (GAD) Local Learning Hub (LLH) in 2019. (PR)