COVID-19 has forced most people to keep safe and help reduce the spread of virus by staying at home. But for many survivors of gender-based violence, being in quarantine means being in the center of a different kind of danger.
The United States’ National Domestic Violence Hotline has identified some of the unique impacts of the pandemic on victims, pointing out that the current situation has emboldened abusers to exert control over them:
• Abusers may deny their victims essential and life-saving items like hand sanitizers, disinfectants, or even insurance cards.
• They may also share misinformation about the pandemic to scare and control their victims, and even prevent them from going out of the house to seek medical help if they show symptoms.
• Programs that serve victims may be significantly impacted as they buckle under funding pressure.
• Victims may also fear entering shelters because of the possibility of being in close quarters with others as the threat of COVID-19 remains high.
• Travel restrictions due to quarantine may impact a victim’s escape or safety plan.
Institutions like the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) have sounded the alarm on the rising incidences of domestic violence during the pandemic, especially in a country where 3 out of 20 women and girls aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence, 1 out of 20 has suffered from sexual violence, and 1 out of 4 married Filipina has experienced spousal violence (based on the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey). Given the new challenges victims now must deal with in escaping their abusers and calling for help, these institutions have urged everyone to be vigilant and immediately report any form of abuse in their homes and communities.
The Philippines’ case is part of a global pattern, a consequence of the pandemic and the lockdown orders that followed. This is why Avon is joining women’s organizations and advocates from all corners of the world in appealing to the public to not to turn a blind eye on gender-based violence during COVID-19. To further support grassroots efforts in securing the safety of vulnerable women, the Avon Foundation For Women has pledged $1 million to non-government organizations providing front-line services such as helplines and refuges, building on its 15-year commitment to help end violence against women and girls.
Avon is also launching a communications effort among its five million Representatives worldwide, their customers, and their communities. Isolated Not Alone focuses on raising awareness on domestic abuse amidst COVID-19; signposting where to go for help and how to identify and support those at risk; and calling on governments to support the provision of life-saving services, which are in danger of further funding cuts and de-prioritization.
“Domestic violence is already an epidemic which is hidden behind closed doors,” says Angela Cretu, Avon CEO. “Like COVID-19, it’s a silent killer. We’re going to make sure those who are isolated know they are not alone. In addition to giving funds to NGOs through the Avon Foundation For Women our Avon teams will be donating vital products—from personal care to hand sanitizers and soaps—to refuges across the world.”
In the Philippines, Avon is embedding emergency hotline numbers and other life-saving information into lifestyle content delivered digitally through local celebrities and digital influencers, so that women can access the support they need with reduced risk of exposure to abusers. Partner NGOs’ hotlines are also open 24/7 to accommodate victims with capacity-building programs for service providers, food and hygiene packs, and counseling and legal consultations.
“Empowering women is Avon’s long-standing legacy, and their safety is our priority,” says Razvan Diratian, General Manager of Avon Philippines. “As the community quarantine is extended in various regions here, the risk of women and children isolated with domestic violence abusers increases too. Please join us by speaking out if you know a friend or a neighbor who needs support.”
Spread the word. Show your support for the cause by sharing it with the hashtag #isolatednotalone on your social media channels. Let’s reach out to every woman in need. For more information, go to http://www.avonworldwide.com.
Should you have any information about anyone who may need support against domestic violence during the enhanced community quarantine, contact the following Avon NGO Partners:
Luna Legal Resource Center for Women and Children
Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE)
(035) 422 84 05 | +63 915 259 3029 | +63 999 576 6679
Women’s Care Center Inc. (WCCI)
+63 999 577 9631 | +63 920 967 7852 | +63 917 825 0320 | (02) 8514-4104
ING MAKABABAYING AKSYON (IMA) Foundation
(045) 323 4750