Lucban police draw flak for 'victim-blaming' advice vs harassment; PNP sets probe

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 13 2020 07:27 PM | Updated as of Jun 13 2020 08:57 PM

MANILA - The local police station in Lucban town in Quezon province has drawn controversy for telling women to stop wearing skimpy clothes to protect themselves from sexual harassment - safety advice that netizens called a form of victim-blaming.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has ordered an investigation into the post, which has since been deleted on social media.

In the post, the Lucban town police wrote: “We love women and they’re good people, so let’s not abuse that. But, to the girls, just don’t wear skimpy clothes. At the end of the day, when you’re harassed, you end up complaining to us. Think about it.”

ABS-CBN News was able to screen-capture the social-media post.

PNP chief Police Gen. Archie Gamboa has ordered an investigation into the matter.

“The Police Chief of Lucban Municipal Police Station and all personnel who may be involved will be made to explain why they allowed posting of such statements in their social media account that elicited negative reactions from the public for implied victim-blaming,” Gamboa said in a statement.

Speaking to ABS-CBN News, Lucban police chief Police Major Rizaldy Merene said their message was taken out of context.

“Parang advice lang ’yun... kaso nga lang na-misinterpret na ng iba,” said Merene, who has instructed those behind the social-media post to explain.

(That's just an advice... but others misinterpreted it.)

“Mali nga pero ang point lang niya doon is para lang ’wag lang mag-short, ’wag magsuot ng maiksing short, ’yun lang wala nang iba.”

(It was wrong but the point there is that women shouldn't wear short shorts, that's all, nothing else.)

Merene added that women should also take precaution to avoid harassment.

“Unang-una lang naman, sa harassment is I think hindi naman ’yan sa pagsusuot ng maikling shorts, ’yun ngang kilos siguro nasa sa kanila na rin naman ’yan ang pag-iingat niyan,” he said.

(First of all, when it comes to harassment, I don't think it's because of wearing short shorts but with how they act but of course, taking precautions is up to them.)

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the notion that the burden of not being assaulted should never fall on the victim.

LACK OF GENDER SENSITIVITY

For women's group Gabriela, the Lucban police post showed just how the force still does not have a grasp on gender sensitivity despite supposed regular trainings.

Gabriela Secretary General Joms Salvador said any form of harassment is "never the fault of the victim."

"Sabi nga nila, walang rape kung walang rapist. At walang karahasan sa kababaihan kung walang nag-iisip na OK lang, walang karahasan sa kababaihan kung nagse-set ng tamang example ang mga nag-e-enforce ng batas. It’s a matter of the police actually reneging on their duty," she said when reached by phone.

(As they say, there is no rape if there are no rapists. There is no violence against women if they feel like it's OK, there's no violence against women if those who enforce the law set the right example.)

She said the Lucban police post seems to stem from a systemic belittling of violence against women, even while special women's desks exist in police stations.

"May pagmamaliit sa isyu ng violence against women. Ni hindi magkakaroon ng ganyang social media posts if pinapahalagahan ng tama," Salvador told ABS-CBN News.

(They trivialize the issue of violence against women. There won't be such social media posts if this issue is given proper importance.)

— with a report from April Rafales, ABS-CBN News