/ 15 March 2021

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday reiterated the need to ensure the continued education and  implementation of protection programs for vulnerable girls to combat gender-based violence.

He made the call following the release of a survey showing that violence against women was a top concern during the Covid19 pandemic.

A recent survey by the Social Weather Stations revealed that for 25 percent of Filipinos, harmful acts in various forms are among the most pressing problems of women.

Gatchalian said that since school-age girls have been confined at home, they are also more vulnerable to domestic violence and dropping out.

The senator emphasized that even if schools implemented remote learning, they should continuously provide safety nets to learners, including child protection programs.

The lawmaker said that school closures increased the exposure of young girls to early pregnancies.

A two-month study by the Department of Science and Technology- National Research Council of the Philippines identified school closures, dysfunctional family, and lack of access to sexual and reproductive health education as among the factors of teenage pregnancy.

“Sa patuloy na pagdiriwang natin ng National Women’s Month, mahalagang alalahanin natin na dapat nating paigtingin ang pagbibigay proteksiyon sa ating mga batang kababaihan laban sa ano mang uri ng pang-aabuso at karahasan. Isa sa mga pinakamahalagang hakbang na maaari nating gawin ay hindi sila mahinto sa pag-aaral sa kabila ng mga hamong kinakaharap natin, lalo na’t ang mga paaralan ay may mga programa para sa kanilang proteksiyon,” Gatchalian said.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture also cited the role of child protection committees in schools, which should identify vulnerable learners, report cases of abuse, and coordinate with institutions like the Philippine National Police-Women and Children’s Protection Desk, the Local Social Welfare and Development Office, and other government agencies, and non-government organizations.