The Quezon City government has opened one of the first local government unit-run shelters for abused women, children, and LGBTs, serving as the highlight to the city’s commemoration of the 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women.
Mayor Joy Belmonte led the opening of Bahay Kanlungan to serve as a temporary shelter for victim-survivors of gender-based violence and abuse.
Those admitted to the shelter shall be processed at the hospital-based QC Protection Center in Barangay Bahay Toro, and if needed, referred to the shelter for up to 12 weeks.
“Our protection center is offering various aids, such as medical assistance, legal assistance and counseling. Where could we take them if they feel they are no longer safe at home? That is the purpose of Bahay Kanlungan,” she said.
The facility has 60 beds dedicated for women, children, and lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders. There is an activity area, reading hub and playing room for kids. The center will also have Wi-Fi and a learning area for children who need to attend online classes and a livelihood training center for women and LGBTs.
“The shelter will play an important role during this pandemic,” Belmonte said.
“Based on data, there is an increase of 25 percent to 35 percent in domestic violence amid the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic since the victim and the abuser just stay under one house. Most often than not, the abuser is one’s partner, spouse or relative,” she cited.
Aside from the physical abuse, she said victims also experience emotional, economic, and financial abuse from their perpetrators.
Belmonte said abused women and children usually have no choice but to endure pain and suffering since they are economically dependent on the perpetrators.
“This is especially true during this pandemic as children are required to stay at home, and many women lost their livelihoods or were forced to stay home to tutor kids and care for the elderly,” she noted.
Private and government partners such as SPARK! Philippines and the Philippine Commission on Women have pledged to support the city’s initiative by providing livelihood for women in the shelter.
According to Belmonte, the city has further strengthened its QC Helpline 122 capabilities with its operators now trained to handle concerns of VAWC victims.