“She can’t be raped; she carries a gun.” – Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, joking about his daughter coming out as a rape victim.
It takes a lot of courage for women to come out as rape victims.
Sara Duterte, facing backlash over her father’s “joke” about an Australian missionary raped and killed during a 1989 Davao prison hostage crisis, bared her story.
READ: Sara Duterte says she is also a rape victim
Rape, she said, is not a joke – a statement drawn from her own painful experience.
Her terse Instagram note said it all: “Finally said it. Good morning.”
She could find no words to defend Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks. Yet she still believed the words had no bearing on his potential as a leader.
Many folks jeered at her. I couldn’t. The bonds between children and parents are complex. Many of us will forgive our parents. or try to, no matter the trials they gave or still give us.
Having covered rape survivors over the years, I also know that each one deals differently with the trauma. Friends, too, have been raped and each one reacted in a different way.
Sara said the rape happened a long time ago. She did not tell anyone, especially her parents. There are a million and one reasons for rape survivors’ inability to escape the trap of silence.
Children – minors -- make up 77 percent of our rape survivors.
It’s not true that addicts are the main perpetrators of rape. Many of the rapists of children are people they love or consider authority figures. They depend on the rapists for shelter, for food, for emotional comfort, for survival in school and in the community.
Rape is among the most heinous of crimes because it is often committed to flaunt one’s complete control over another person.
Rape occurs every two minutes in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country.
INFOGRAPHIC: A rape every 53 minutes: Fast facts on rape
Official statistics don't reflect the true breadth of the crisis. Only three of 10 survivors of sexual abuse seek help to stop the attacks. Almost 40 percent suffer in silence; 27 percent share the experience but back out from seeking aid.
Many are blamed for their ordeal. Many are told in a thousand different ways that they deserved the rape. Or that their personal pain must be subsumed for various reasons: the economic needs of the family, to prevent a clan from being shamed, to prevent reprisals by kin, to preserve personal reputation.
And so rape has become endemic to the culture, among the many crimes committed with impunity. Think about it – a rape every two minutes and only 7,416 rape suspects are in jail, in a country that has won top education and health marks for narrowing the gender gap.
A young friend once shared – years after the fact – that she had become depressed and suicidal because her mother accused her of “asking for it.”
The rapist was the son of a family friend. The rape happened at a time when, rebelling against family problems, my friend went out drinking and carousing to escape strife at home.
To this day, she still cries at the memory of her mother’s contempt: “Malandi ka kasi.”
Another friend, with an outwardly tough personality, was told by her father: “Nakakahiya ka. Ang tapang-tapang mo, nagparape ka lang.” (You should be ashamed. You’re tough and you allowed yourself to be raped.)
You would think Duterte, the father, after apologizing for his “gutter language,” would take the time to absorb his daughter’s confession.
You would think he would take the time to appreciate the risk Sara took for him.
After trying to convince us of his anger and empathy for victims of abuse, including rape victims, you would expect him, at least, to sit down and talk to his daughter, a grown woman now, to share in the pain and sorrow, to learn lessons from her experience.
He couldn’t be bothered.
Duterte, the father, called his daughter’s rape a “personal matter.”
Worse, twice he said it couldn’t be true. The first time, to reporters; the second time, before the public. He called Sara, his daughter, “a drama queen.”
That is classic abusive behavior.
Disclaimer: The views of the author are her own and not necessarily the views of ABS-CBN Corp.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.