Youth leader says ‘more than just a girl interrupted’ after online sexual harassment


Posted at Oct 04 2021 02:23 PM

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MANILA – A youth leader whose speech was interrupted at an online event called for safer virtual spaces for women as she stressed that she wants to be associated more with the cause she is fighting for.

On Saturday, Gabriela Youth-University of San Carlos Chairperson Celine Lagundi was speaking at the launch of a university-based program for sexual harassment reporting when she was first interrupted by music.

A few moments later, however, someone started drawing phallic images over her screen.

“My initial thought was, ‘What was happening?’” she said of the incident.

“And when I realized that it was a deliberate attack and a mockery of women and what we were doing, that was when I felt really disempowered and humiliated when that was happening to me, ‘cause that wasn’t what I signed up for at all,” she added.

Lagundi said virtual spaces should be made safe for women "especially to the people who actually have the power to make it happen."

“The creators of the social media apps and spaces should be held accountable especially for cases like this, ‘cause we know that this isn’t the first time that a woman has experienced sexual harassment online, and I know for a fact that this wouldn’t be the last time that this would happen to me or for any woman in that matter, because misogyny and sexism are systemic problems that we have to continue to fight for,” she added.

“I would very much like to be associated more with the reason why I was in that program, which is to be in solidarity with an initiative that upholds women’s rights and to fight against sexual harassment, discrimination, and violence against women in the university."

"And I believe that I’m so much more than a girl interrupted,” she said in an interview on ANC's "Rundown."

Lagundi said greater representation of women is needed in order to better fight sexual harassment of women in the country.

“I think it’s very important for us have a strong women’s representation, especially in government and by women’s representation, I believe that it doesn’t only have to fight for women in schools or women in online spaces.”

“But we also have to ultimately fight for women especially in marginalized sectors, ‘cause even I as a college student who has experienced sexual harassment, what more the people in vulnerable sectors of society?” she added.

“There is so much sexual harassment that is going on in places like that that aren’t reported, and what are we doing for them? What is the government ultimately doing for these people and these cases that haven’t seen the light of day?”

--ANC, 4 October 2021