MANILA — As discourse on victim blaming and rape recently dominated social media pages, sociology and human rights experts have called on the public to begin changing behaviors that perpetuate rape culture.
This, amid speculations on what really caused the death of Philippine Airlines' flight attendant Christine Dacera, who was found unconscious in a bathtub in a Makati City hotel after joining an intimate New Year's party. Police claim it was a case of rape with homicide while there were other claims she died of natural causes after initial autopsy results noted of aortic aneurysm.
While the probe continues, a sociologist believes it is high time people stop behaviors that condone rape culture, and that the public must reinforce calls for a proper justice system.
“Hindi tayo natatapos sa information [dissemination] lamang dapat nagbi-bleed itong information campaign natin into actual manifestations that make people realize na maling-mali ito at hindi niyo dapat ’to ginagawa at ito’y isang krimen, kinukulong, kinakasuhan ‘yung mga taong gumagawa ng sexual violence,” said Athena Charanne "Ash" Presto, a sociologist from the University of the Philippines Diliman
(We do not end with information dissemination alone, our information campaign should bleed into actual manifestations that make people realize that it is wrong and you should not do it and it is a crime, detain and file charges to people committing sex violence.)
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also reminded the public to end all forms of violence against women.
In a Facebook post, the CHR said tolerance to micro-aggressions like rape jokes, victim blaming, sexist attitudes and statements like “locker room talk” and “boys will be boys” can support and excuse other acts like degradation, removal of autonomy and violence.
“Violence against women (VAW), including rape, is deeply rooted in patriarchal beliefs and unequal treatment of women in our society. Aside from enduring the violent act, women are further subjected to victim-blaming, sexual objectification, and trivialization of the assault,” the CHR said.
“Denial of such crimes against women is the ultimate attack to women’s dignity. It clearly illustrates the widespread impunity on sexual violence and other forms of VAW,” it added.
Some examples of behaviors in each level of rape culture are:
- rape jokes
- victim blaming
- sexist attitudes
- “locker room talk”
- “boys will be boys”
- non-consensual photos
- unsolicited sexual photos
REMOVAL OF AUTONOMY
- sexual coercion
Presto, however, noted that behaviors related to rape culture reinforce one another.
“We all experience, especially us non-men, different forms of sexual violence at different circumstances. Whatever we are wearing, whoever we are with, whatever we are doing but we should just be careful not to put these experiences in a hierarchical manner,” the sociologist said.
“We live with different trauma and we should recognize that this is not something wherein we take an experience and say “hey, eto mas malala ‘to dito sa isang experience na ‘to.” kailangan lang nating i-recognize na (“hey, this experience is much worse, we should recognize) there are a lot of forces in play when women experience sexual violence and we should against all of those forces all,” she added.
The sociologist said people can build communities that can be safe spaces for sexual harassment survivors.
She added that changes in institutional, cultural, public, and personal can be done from implementing laws that can protect vulnerable sectors.
“So, paano nga naman mangyayari ‘yun (pagbabago) kung ‘yung mismong lipunan sasabihin sa’yo na kasalanan mo kung bakit nangyari sa’yo ‘yung nangyari sa’yo. Ang hirap talagang labanan ‘yung violence against women pero marami tayong strategies na pwedeng i-employ,” she said.
(So, how can that happen if society itself tells you that it is your fault why it happened to you. It is really hard to fight violence against women but we have many strategies that can be employed.)
“We can teach our daughters to say no but most importantly teach your sons to respect a no, call out your friends, and in a systemic manner, we bond together to call for justice and demand accountability.”