Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 12      April 30 - May 6, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines











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Rape Victims Viewed as “Dirty Women”

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 amplified.


Maruming babae (Dirty woman).

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 women.

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 invitation.

The woman is victimized twice over, by the act of rape and by society’s judgment against her.  

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 shattered.

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 Philippines

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 on-going.

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

Padilla attributes “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 gang.

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. 

Lawyer Claire 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 stronger women.

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. Bulatlat  



© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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