The Shadow Pandemic: uSAPan on violence against women, children during the lockdown

Kickstarting its monthly discussion series uSAPan, Social Sciences Department (SSD), in collaboration with Lasallian Community Development Center (LCDC), the International Development Program Council (IDPC), and the Political Science Program Council (PSPC) shed light on issues of domestic violence against women and children during the pandemic, tackling the increased dangers at home in the face of community lockdowns.

Titled as “Karahasan sa Kababaihan at sa Kanilang mga Anak sa Panahon ng Pandemya,” the event featured Municipal Trial Court Judge-at-Large Hon. Maria Celina Saludes Carungay-Sevillano as the primary guest speaker, with student leaders and social science professors sitting as the webinar discussants.  

Amplified horrors of domestic violence

Cases of domestic violence had seen a spike during the pandemic after stay-at-home orders were imposed.  As it is difficult to reach out for help under lockdown, many victims are hesitant to come forward, especially when abuses come from the comforts of their home. 

In handling domestic abuse cases, Sevillano shared how most victims who primarily encounter violence or abuse face a dilemma in reporting these incidents. She also mentioned how victims cover their identity when consulting legal advice about domestic abuse.

On a similar note, Psychology Department Chair Dr. Evangeline Ruga remembered how the social stigma particularly to the victims of violence can be a hindrance in offering them a helping hand even before the legislation of Republic Act 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act (VAWC) in 2004, a law that protects the victims of domestic abuse.

As per the VAWC Act, the victim is eligible to file a case against the perpetrator. However, in many instances, the victim themselves is unwilling to file protection due to embarrassment or justification of the abuse. 

“How are you going diba, to, to seek help, file a case against your father or against your husband especially if he’s the one putting food on the table?” Ruga noted. 

Elaborating the clauses of VAWC, Sevillano laid out the acts punishable under the current law, which includes physical, sexual, and psychological violence, as well as economic abuse. Regardless of gender, the perpetrators could be anyone, even family members. 

Violence Hits by the Book

Domestic violence in the new educational setup also became prevalent for children since the imposition of quarantine orders. This is where Head Teacher III of Tua Elementary School Michelle O. Marges recalled the reported incidents of parents taking discipline too far in teaching children in the modular learning setup. 

Mahirap minsan ma-ano, ma-differentiate eh, kung siya ba ay part pa ng disiplina o part siya ng abuse. Basta ang lagi lang namin sinasabi sa magulang, ang sinasabi namin sa kanila yung tyaga talaga laging ibigay sa mga anak nila,”  she said.

Marges shared that she received reports of parents getting to the point of physically or verbally abusing their children in teaching them in modular learning setup. Speaking from experience, they organized home visitations and talked to the parents and the child in order to achieve positive reinforcement in teaching modules.

Moreover, Sevillano underscored the essence of educating not only the victims, but also the perpetrators in which the law covers counseling for both parties.

Ending the Cycle

Although having the initiative could help the victim, this remains a huge challenge with the prevailing circumstances of community quarantines. 

As the pandemic brought limited movements and shutdown of help desks, former Political Science Program Council (PSPC) President  Sophiya Kirsten Montaño suggested organizations that can take action in addressing incidents of abuse. Some of these include the Commission of Human Rights E-Reports to Gender Ombud, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Oxfam International, and Plan International specifically, The Validator Round Table. 

Given the disparity of resources as a student, Montaño also raised the need for Ligtas Na Balik Eskwela to remind everyone that not all children have the reality of a nurturing family and a safe educational environment.

Meanwhile in the field of psychology, Ruga recommended a positive way of discipline by settling terms in a more ‘democratic’ way than going to the point of abuse.

“We are treading on a thin line,” Sevillano said, as she raised the difference between abuse and discipline, especially when discipline stops, and violence begins. 


In creating a safe place for families, our awareness of domestic violence challenges us to take initiative and lend support to make a difference. Discussions on incidents of abuse may transform into an active participation, given that domestic violence chooses no time and place. As our movements continue to be limited by stringent quarantine measures, we must remember that not everyone has a safe place called home.

Publication material courtesy of the Social Sciences Department. 

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