Rape Victims Viewed as
Women rape victims are
victims twice over, by the rapists and by society’s judgment.
For a victim of gang
rape or multiple rape, the sense of helplessness, rage and shame is
BY GUIA ABAD
This sadly remains
the dominant perception of Filipinos on rape victims, said Obet Montes ,
coordinator for services of the women’s group Gabriela, and a counselor
for battered women, rape victims and other victims of violence against
In a conservative
society like the Philippines where a woman’s chastity is upheld as a
virtue, the shame of being raped cuts deep. The same attitude lays blame
on the victim, labeling the woman as “a flirt” who caused the act,
wittingly or unwittingly, through various signals of enticement or
The woman is
victimized twice over, by the act of rape and by society’s judgment
The trauma, shock,
emotional and psychological effects suffered by the victim is
immeasurable, Montes said. For most victims of rape, it takes years before
the healing process begins. Some recover some semblance of their
well-being before the rape. Some still carry the trauma, their self-image
For many, the
incident is never mentally erased and their lives are put on hold, Montes
said. These women never move forward, affecting their relationships with
family and mostly towards men.
For a victim of gang
rape or multiple rape, this sense of helplessness, rage and shame is
amplified. The victim suffers emotional and mental setbacks. Worse, in
many cases, the suspects continue to threaten the victim.
Gang rape in the
There are no
statistics on gang rape cases in the Philippines. The lack of numbers,
however, do not mean the absence of the crime. Victims refuse to step
forward for fear of being a social outcast. The police have no accurate
picture on the incidence of gang rapes.
The first media
recorded case of gang rape was in the early 1960s when an actress accused
the scion of a wealthy Manila family of abduction and gang rape.
Statuesque mestiza movie actress Maggie de la Riva was fodder for
media hype when she testified against the possé of Jaime Jose, a popular
music band leader.
Jose and his friends
were found guilty and sentenced to death by regional trial court Judge
Lourdes San Diego. Jose died on the electric chair, as attempts to seek
a reprieve were rejected by authorities.
Montes narrated the
case of a 16-year old girl who was raped by a church pastor who was her
suitor. Her family filed a case against the pastor. After the case was
filed, the accused abducted the victim in her school and held her hostage
for several months.
While in captivity,
the pastor, his father and lawyer took turns raping the girl. The court
dismissed charges of gang rape but the rape case filed in 1996 is still
The case of Evelyn
Nalam of Butuan
City received special media attention. In
1992, she accused her neighbors Roberto Salazar and Domingo Pampaguitan of
rape. The accused were charged with rape and eventually sentenced to a
minimum of 40 years in jail.
Most victims of gang
rape remain silent for months before reporting the crime. Montes said
this is due to the victim’s fear of society’s judgment, of not wanting to
be branded as “maduming babae”.
A rape victim becomes
so afraid that she is going to be blamed for the crime, that she denies
that she was violated, Montes said.
Padilla said that a
rape victim who keeps silent becomes easy prey for continued abuse, said
Padilla. She prosecuted the case of a 19-year old who had the mental
capacity of a six-year old. The victim was repeatedly raped by a gang in
Marikina City until the victim became pregnant. It was after the victim
bore the child that her family filed the case against the gang.
“mob mentality” as an element why gang rape happens.
When a person is part
of a group, he conforms to the actions of other members of the group, she
said. When some members of a group decides to rape a woman, even those
who at first did not want to, end up doing so because they are part of the
When the “mob” rules,
personal convictions weaken and individuals tend to “go with the flow.”
Subic rape a case
of gang rape
Gang rape is
classified as rape done by two or more people. The Revised Penal Code
provides that rape committed with the use of a deadly weapon or by two or
more persons is punishable by reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment
or 40 years imprisonment) to death.
A suspect may be
charged guilty of rape even without penetration. The accused could have
held her down or acted as lookout while the crime is being committed.
Padilla, an advocate of women’s rights, said that the rape of a Filipina
by four American servicemen in November 2005 is classified as a gang
rape. She said that the people in the van were aware that a crime was
happening and yet did nothing to stop it, making them part of the “gang”.
The driver could also
be charged as an accessory to the rape that occurred.
Montes said that
those who survive gang rapes may initially seem broken, being traumatized
and derailed from pursuing their plans in life. But as they undergo
counseling, they slowly recover. Those who eventually do, come out as
They are aware of the
difficulties of other women victims, Montes said. Some publicly share
their experience, in the hope that other victims would break their silence
and find the courage to report their case. They serve as an inspiration
to others, a source of strength to those who have not found their voice.
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© 2006 Bulatlat
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