Trigger warning: Sexual assault:
There is a video circulating on social media where a man is seen forcing himself onto a beggar in a public area, behind what I assume is an electrical post. Fortunately, the man is immediately caught by the authorities, and I’m hoping he stays behind bars because what he did was inhumane.
After watching the video, I kept asking myself random things like, “What made him do that?” “What was going through his mind before he did that?” Why, because until now, I’m still trying to decipher how someone could do such a thing.
It made me furious.
The story was rattling enough and coincided with the 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) this year.
Sexual assault is defined in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as: “Illegal sexual contact that usually involves force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent…”
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (nsvrc.org), the movement SAAM had been established since the 1940s in the United States, championed mostly by women of color, but was officially recognized only 20 years ago.
The NSVRC was formed in 2000, which prompted the birth of SAAM, along with the teal ribbon that symbolizes sexual assault awareness. It initiated discussions on how to prevent sexual assault, as well as promoting respect for women, as well as men.
Today there are numerous laws that serve as protection for victims of sexual assault. Unfortunately, the number of victims continues to grow despite such laws.
No IFs, no BUTs
People often wonder why victims do not come forward to file a complaint immediately. It’s because victim-shaming is still prevalent.
It’s disheartening to hear these comments from people who are otherwise expected to sympathize or defend the victims: “Bakit kasi ganyan kasi yung suot mo?” “Bakit kasi nasa labas ka pa eh gabi na?” “Kababae mong tao pero puro lalaki kasama mo?”
Men also experience sexual assault and it’s high time people realized this and stopped telling the victims such reprehensible statements as: “Eh ginusto mo rin naman yun.” “Ayaw mo pa? Choosy ka pa?”
It gets worse when a top government official’s lewd, caught-on-video gesture against his household help is defended by his rabid supporters as a joke.
Just because someone is acting a certain way doesn’t mean she agrees to be violated. The problem is not about one’s appearance, but rather the person who commits a lascivious act.
Most importantly, people need to acknowledge victims’ claims and help them get justice. Victims should feel safe to open up to others, so that the culprit gets punished.
Sexual assault is sexual assault — no two ways about it.