I recently visited a rehabilitation center in my city for abused women. While most of the residents were in their mid-30’s, I couldn’t help but notice a pre-teenage girl hiding behind a book seemingly engulfed with what she is reading. I took the time to approach her, not knowing that a day with Aislee would change my outlook on life.
She’s a shy girl, timid but with a glimmer of fear in her eyes. I never expected her to be a rape victim but she was robbed of her innocence when she was eight. As much as I wanted to numb myself while listening to her story, my stomach tightened and I felt like vomiting. I am not allowed to ask Aislee a series of questions because such a line of questioning can invoke trauma-like conditions so I ask one question: What happened?
“I was really scared at that time. He’s my uncle and he told me that he’d kill my mom if I’d talk. He even told me to keep my mouth shut and not tell anybody. I don’t think they would believe me if I’d tell them. The first time he did it to me, I wish I was dead, it was so painful and I kept crying but I cannot talk. My mom got really worried and asked me why I was crying, not a single word could go out of my mouth that time, so I slept beside her because I was so scared. There are times when I’d remember what happen, and it scares me, I’d get jumpy when a man would go near me.”
Aislee’s case isn’t isolated as thousands of child rape cases are left unreported. According to the records released by the Center for Women’s Resources, one woman or child is being raped every hour. There were 7,037 reported rape cases that took place from January to October 2016, as reported in CNN Philippines.
“The execution of a convicted rapist in 1999 did not stop abusers from raping women and girls… Given a corrupt system and a culture of impunity where the rich and the powerful can go scot-free, the death penalty will always be a contentious method to curb criminality in the country,” CWR’s executive director, Jojo Guan said in a press release.
Family Members Are Unsafe for Some
Aislee is only one a thousand victims that this cite has processed since inception. Rape cases involving family members are very common in the Philippines. The violators are either immediate family and extended family members and they usually prey on young victims, girls or boys. In a report released by CNN last year, the number of incestuous rape significantly increased from 2012 to 2016. Just last year, a total of 127 known incestuous rape case was tallied.
Talking About Consent
Sex education and consent is a major topic that the Philippine government has dismissed as necessary for our schools. The Department of Education has yet to approve sex education in schools and this delay and ignorance has contributed to many unreported rape cases and fearful victims. PCW Executive Director Emmeline Versoza explained the concept of consent during an interview with CNN Philippines. She mentioned that “no means no” may it be with a husband or a partner. “If a woman says “no,” it means no. She does not have to prove that she fought back, or that there was penetration, or other forms of struggle. Because usually when that happens, the women just freeze and don’t know what to do,” Versoza said.
Rape is committed when a person forces his/her self onto a victim or when someone threatens another into having sex of any kind. The full description of the law can be found in the Anti-Rape Law of 1997. It was updated to the Anti-Rape Law, RA 8353, to include marital rape. It adds that a husband shall not force his wife to perform sexual acts if she does not consent. It the husband should do so he can be jailed for life. The revised law also mentions that if the woman chooses to forgive her legal husband, she has the right to absolve his criminal liability.
Sex Education in the Philippines
Sex education in the Philippines is still being pushed for approval in the senate. A Department of Education official has pleaded that sex education will not only tackle safe sex, but will cover the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law if 2012, or the RH Law. President Duterte is pushing for sex education with the goal to implement age-appropriate sexuality education among public schools.
Rosailie Masilang, DepEd Adolescent Reproductive Health spokesperson shared that the main goal of sex education among public schools is: “to equip and empower learners in making informed choices and decisions on issues that affect their personal safety and well-being.”
Aside from the RH Law, the Department of Education would also highlight the importance of “good touch” and “bad touch” wherein children will be taught about saying “No.” He also explained that children are highly vulnerable when it comes to being exploited because they don’t know the warning signs of sexual assault and abuse.
Aislee has been in the rehab centre for a few months and misses her mother who is unable to pay for the trip to and from her home several miles away. Considering the crime committed to her, she is coping well but is still very nervous to be around older men.
The uncle admitted to the rapes saying he was drunk each time. He is serving time for his disgusting crime
Talking to Aislee made me realize the importance of sex education. Consent is one of the most important things that needs to be taught not only to young girls, but boys too. High school students are often trapped in the illusion that sex equates to love, thus their understanding of consent needs to be clarified. Aislee showed me strength despite the weakness. She showed me that indeed, a rainbow comes after the rain. Thousands of children in the Philippines and around the world are like Aislee. These children were robbed of their innocence and left with scars that will never fully heal.
Written by Abbie Uychiat
Abbie Uychiat studied BS Psychology and is an aspiring independent film director based in the Philippines. She is a dreamer and is juggling the joys of single motherhood, her career as a recruitment specialist and a freelance writer. Part of her mission is to provide a better and cleaner Philippines for the future generation.