PHILIPPINES: Women's Group Files House Resolution Urging Sensitivity toward Rape Victims

Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer
South Eastern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Rape jokes, such as the one recently made by comedian Vice Ganda, are more than just ill-advised humor and reflect Philippine society's attitudes toward women and women victims of violence, according to the party list group Gabriela.

Gabriela lawmakers Luz Ilagan and Emmi De Jesus on Tuesday filed a resolution urging celebrities and entertainment personalities to exercise the highest standards of responsibility and observe utmost sensitivity to victims of violence against women during their public performances, especially given their position of influence.

Gabriela, in its resolution, cited a gang rape joke that Vice Ganda made at the expense of female broadcaster Jessica Soho. The joke triggered a furor especially among Soho's colleagues, who pointed out that rape was not a laughing matter.

The comedian later apologized.

But Gabriela said an attitude change in society was needed, as it noted that rape jokes have been made by public entertainers before and that the issue is apparently considered trivial by some.

“The public apology of Vice Ganda is not the end of it all. For victims of rape and other forms of violence against women, the joke has serious causes that are bigger and deeper than bad spiel-making and should be socially addressed beyond public apology,” it said.

“The rape joke of Vice Ganda and many other personalities before him reflects a Philippine society which still has a long way to go in changing its views and attitude towards women in general and women victims of violence such as rape, in particular,” it added.

Rape is “the worst form of violence against women,” according to the group. Victims suffer immense trauma, and the healing process takes a lifetime, it noted.

“It goes without saying that it should not be trivialized nor should it be the subject of jokes especially in a public venue,” it said.

This was why people of influence, such as celebrities and entertainers, should be more circumspect.

“One way through which Philippine society can change its anti-women views and attitude toward rape victims is to hold media and entertainment celebrities/personalities to the highest standards of responsibility,” it said.