23 Jan #SayNoToRape Kat Alano’s Open Letter to Secretary De Lima

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JUAN SAYS: It has almost been a year since we first published Kat Alano’s cry to #EndRapeCulture (Read: Kat Alano Breaks Her Silence). Today, she speaks out once more in her open letter to Justice Secretary De Lima. Through all those months, we have seen the rise of rape survivors coming out and telling their stories from both here and abroad. Yet to this day, many still dwell on one question, who raped who? Though it is essential to know (and to put the rapists behind bars) but many of us are missing the point of the message. It is not just about knowing who (surely many of these rape survivors know who their perpetrators are, and honestly, it is none of our business if they don’t wish to tell. Chismis na yan), but it is more of, what are we doing about it?
 
It came as a shock to Kat and to us at juan.com.ph that our own Justice Secretary is surprised by the rising number of rape victims in the country, after the many controversial cases and low profile cases that were reported by the media. It is almost conclusive to say that we just don’t care. All we want to know is who did it and that is supposed to make our lives better and safer.
 
Let us reiterate that experience where we all cried with the little girl who bravely asked Pope Francis: “why does God let this happen?” We cried. Our hearts went out to the little girl who can’t even finish her speech because she was already sobbing in tears. We cried so hard, but where have this crying led us to be? Has his quote “Rape is a most grave offense against the dignity of women, a violation of body and spirit, a trauma hard to erase” ~Pope Francis remained as such? A quotable quote posted on social media so people will think we are one with the nation?
 
Let us heed the call of UVAR (United Voices Against Rape) and Kat Alano, and sign this petition:
 
#SayNoToRapePH — Help our rape victims attain justice to prevent rapists from walking free from court to offend again by introducing mandatory briefings on myths about rape before investigation and trial of rape cases. Stop protecting rapists.
 

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An open letter to Justice Secretary De Lima

 

By Kat Alano

 
Ma’am, before I get to the main point of this letter, I’d like to bring your attention to the fact that you were recently quoted in an article regarding the sexual assault of an 8 year old girl in NBP as saying: “Of course it’s again very surprising on my part, very shocking again on my part, with all of these one incident after the other, one issue after the other, one controversy after the other”.
 
You said that you were ‘surprised’? I ask, how can a woman in your position be surprised at this fact? As the Secretary of Justice, I’m sure that you are aware that in the past year alone the number of public rape cases has been astounding, hence the evidence of the pro rape culture in our country has been laid bare in front of the public for all to see.
 
WE HAVE A HUGE PROBLEM WITH RAPE CULTURE IN OUR COUNTRY. Our nation as it stands is PRO RAPE and JUSTICE AS IT STANDS HAS FAILED US.
 
The fact that you are still ‘surprised’ by this incident means that, whether you intended it or not, the justice system under your jurisdiction is a big factor in this problem. How so? Under your jurisdiction, a PUBLIC FIGURE who is a KNOWN RAPIST that has had several rape cases filed against him has been allowed to go free, scaring the rest of his victims into submission, knowing the ease at which the other cases were dismissed without fair deliberation. It has also proven something I knew to be true long ago, that filing a case in our court system against the man who raped me would end only in an unfair dismissal and a perjury case filed against me for ‘damaging his reputation’ by trying to bring this man to justice for what he has done to me and many others. One does not need to be a lawyer to have the inner workings of our justice system figured out. There have been many other publicized rape cases against public figures which have ended the same way, in favor of the rapist and NOT in favor of justice for the victims. You see Secretary De Lima, I myself am a victim of the same man who has been allowed to go free under your jurisdiction. At 19 years old, I was raped 10 years ago and I dread to think how many more silent victims there have been since me.
 
From my research, I understand that according to our laws, rape is a non-bailable offense and as long as a victim’s testimony is inherently credible it should be enough to incite probable cause. Yet due to personal, cultural and societal biases in the Philippines, JUSTICE has been unfairly weighed IN FAVOR OF RAPISTS and the people of our country know this. As long as an alleged victim’s testimony is inherently credible, should that not stand as enough probable cause to go to court? Even if one victim can cast doubt upon the claim, shouldn’t the testimony of several victims accusing the same man be weight enough to at least give the victims a fair and just trial? Especially given that other victims will have seen how difficult it is to accuse a man publicly without suffering violent judgment from the court of biased public opinion? Threats on one’s life will keep the astounding number of other victims from speaking up; and if victims are brave enough to come forward, should they not at least be heard by a judge? None of my rapists’ victims have even made it into a courtroom to have their testimony heard. Even if they did, the chances of them getting a fair trial are slim to none under the current system.
 
Many rape cases are thrown out with resolutions spotted with obvious rape culture and personal biases based on misconceptions of rape and the assumed behavior of a victim ‘should have’ according to authority figures who have probably never been in the face of rape. The psychological research data behind the trauma of rape is very easily accessible, clearly stating that all victims react differently and can go into stages of shock. The bottom line is that, the laws in our country state that even if a person is mid coitus and refuses to continue, if the other party participating in the act continues against their partner’s will, this in itself can already be considered an act of rape. At the end of the day, regardless of what blame can be placed on a victim by personal biases, a person’s choice to rape is illegal and the offender should be charged accordingly with the full extent of the law.
 
The blatant disregard for the consequences of raping children, as has been frequently reported in the news recently, inherently symbolizes a gigantic middle finger at your institution. So much so that sexual assaults on innocent children are even happening in the very place where justice is meant to be served (NBP). The public dismissals of serial rapists has been a green light for our society to rape and feel confident that they can get away with it. Even worse, some have taken to killing their victims allowing even less chance for them to be caught. How many more victims have to die before we start to make a change?
 
I ask you, where do you stand? As a woman, and as the head of the justice system as it stands, do you stand for us, or against us? Do you have daughters, sisters or nieces? How would you feel if you knew that one of your loved ones was a victim of rape or sexual assault? Wouldn’t you want the perpetrator to be brought to justice?
 
The lack of education about sex in our country means that people have a hard time discerning between rape and consensual sex. Culture as it has been bred for generations has made it impossible for victims who have trauma and fear of their abusers, in many cases the perpetrators are their OWN RELATIVES; making it very difficult for them to openly come out and speak up about their experience, let alone FILE A CASE against them in a court of law. What happens when these things are perpetuated for this long? Culturally, the stigma of shame and fear of tarnishing one’s name has been preventing rapists from even being reported. This means that THEY ARE STILL OUT THERE! They know they can rape and get away with it. Imagine how many people are still suffering in silence under the fear, shame and threat of public backlash they will face for speaking out?
 
One of the roots of this problem is lack of education. Culturally, sex is a taboo subject that is not something parents openly discuss with their children. Instead of being properly educated about sex, people learn about it from their peers, magazines that glamorize it, from TV shows and from movies. People in our country need to know that being sexually violated is not okay and that they can speak up about being abused and raped. They need to be able to heal from their trauma. But after that, THEY NEED JUSTICE.
 
Where do they go for that? The legal system?
 
I have heard stories of rapists being let go with sentiments from people such as ‘let’s just give him a second chance.’ The thousands of bashers that wrote to me after my public admission of being raped by a celebrity exposed the opinions of a vast majority of Filipinos, that rape is still the fault of the victims. The rape culture that dismissed several rape cases due to an assumed ‘lack of probable cause’ shows it is rife within our justice system. If our lawmakers are largely unaware of the misconceptions of rape and how victims respond to the trauma it causes, how can they make accurate, non-biased judgments about alleged rapists? What is probable cause to rape someone? I think you will find that many rapists commit the act purely because they want to take the most sacred part of a human being against their will; and that is probable cause enough. If we cannot eradicate rape culture from our system, the future of our country is bleak indeed. If this problem is not properly addressed and dealt with, do you think anything will change as we progress forward into the future? Collectively, if we as a culture and society stay on our current course, this problem is only going to get bigger and the consequences to our society will be more severe.
 
In accusing public figures of rape there is an even greater problem and misconception that many believe a claim of rape is a ploy to get attention, to become ‘famous’ if you will. This is a reflection of the terrible values that have been instilled into our people by the media. I know this because after my public admission of being raped last year, I was put out of work, as I have been for the past year, a plight I share with other victims who have accused this man of rape publicly. The negative attention I have received from the public has been derogatory and violent, some of his supporters have even made threats against my life. There is no pleasant publicity or ‘fame’ from accusing a highly popular celebrity of rape. It only causes victims who are already living with shame and guilt even more pain, fear and angst. This cannot be allowed to continue any further.
 
Secretary De Lima,
 
WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please open your eyes to the plight of rape victims in our country. Please face the fact that we have a major problem and that the system as it stands has been proven to ineffective in catching rapists and giving victims the sense of justice they deserve.The victims of the Philippines NEED YOU to help us become one of the front runners in the world for defeating this plague of rape culture that has infected our country for centuries; instead of being a race and culture that oppresses victims and openly supports criminals.
 
I implore you please, as a survivor, as a rape victim, as a woman and above all else as a fellow Filipina.
 
PLEASE STAND WITH US.
 
Yours Sincerely,
 
Kat Alano

(photo credits: Kat Alano’s cover photo by Raymund Isaac for juan.com.ph/2014)

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