Gender-based violence emergencies now included in 911 hotline

| Written by Padayon UP

The 911 emergency hotline is now catering to emergencies related to gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against women and children (VAWC).

The Department of Justice, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of the Interior and Local Government on Tuesday, Dec. 7, signed a joint memorandum circular to officially launch the inclusion of GBV and VAWC emergencies in the national emergency hotline.

“The inclusion of VAWC and GBV emergencies was born out of the alarming prevalence of crimes involving women and children victims and the need to set up more effective and accessible reporting mechanisms,” Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Chairperson Sandra Montano said during the launch.

“Any woman, victim-survivor, or informant can now call the 911 hotline whenever they find themselves or other people, in situations involving violence against women or gender-based violence at home, in school, work, anytime, anywhere,” she stressed.

Montano said the training of emergency telecommunicators was conducted six months ago spearheaded by PCW, the Asia Foundation, and the University of the Philippines Center for Women and Gender.

Meanwhile, UP Center for Women and Gender Studies Director Dr. Nathalie Africa-Verceles said VAWC is the “most egregious manifestation of women’s subordinate position in the society.”

“Violence against women is gender-based and systemic. It happens to women because they are women. It happens to women because they are women and all women and girls are vulnerable to VAWC. It’s about male power and control over women and takes many forms,” Verceles said.

Verceles also noted that not only women experience GBV, but members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community as well.

“GBV is a broader term that covers not only against women but also violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. Lesbians, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) do not conform to norms on sexuality which makes them vulnerable to gender-based violence,” she pointed out.

“Examples of GBV experienced by LGBTQI individuals are bullying, hate crime, sexual violence, physical assault, threats, and abusive speech. These must be considered as equally critical as VAWC,” Verceles underscored.

Earlier, PCW signed a memorandum of understanding with the Asia Foundation and the Emergency 911 National Office to adopt a “pocket guide” that takes in distress calls related to VAWC and GBV.

Prior to this, calls received through the 911 hotline only included reports about fire, police cases, medical emergencies, search and rescue assistance, and bombing.

(This article, written by Gabriela Baron, was first published in the Manila Bulletin Website on December 7, 2021)