‘Ano po ngayon kung babae kami?’
Whenever we would go out, our parents would always tell us we couldn’t stay out too late.
We would ask them why, and they would always reply: “Anak, kasi babae ka. Kung lalaki ka kasi … ” (“It’s because you are a girl. If you were a boy…”)
We challenged them: So what if we are girls? They didn’t have to answer us; we knew well enough what they meant.
Walking the streets, we see so many incidents where female commuters get catcalled and ogled at.
Much as we want to help and speak out, we’re reduced to silence because of fear. We fear for the women who experience this on a daily basis, and we fear for ourselves as well. And as we scroll through our social media accounts, several posts about sexual abuse and harassment appear.
It disappoints us how many are quick to pin the blame on the victims rather than on the perpetrators. Isn’t it supposed to be common knowledge that the blame should be placed on the perpetrator, not the victim?
Furthermore, some go as far as saying that the behavior of the assaulter is excusable. Boys will be boys, they say. But no, boys — rather, men — must be held accountable for their actions. Gender is, and will never be, an excuse.
In this day and age, it’s easier to simply watch from the sidelines, especially with regard to this issue. But silence is overrated.
Positive change won’t come if we don’t speak up and raise awareness. Taking action can start small; things such as penalizing catcallers is a good place to start.
If we really want the hope of the nation to grow up in a place where people stand up for one another, no matter their gender, then it’s about time we break the silence on sexual harassment and rape culture.
Rather than being bystanders through our silence, let us be active agents of change and stand in solidarity against a culture of disrespect and injustice in today’s society.
CHELSEA BRITANICO, IYA JAVELOSA, JI EUN PARK, TAMMY PENSON, THERESE RAVALO, KAT RODRIGUEZ
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