By Martin Sadongdong
A public service reminder on how to prevent rape triggered a social media frenzy on Tuesday as women rights groups and activists called out the post for apparently putting the blame on the victims, instead of the suspects.
The now-viral 10-item “tips” on how to prevent rape was posted on the Facebook account of the Angono Municipal Police Station (MPS), which is part of the Rizal Provincial Police Office (PPO), around 6 p.m. of July 17.
It was picked up by social media users and went viral in less than a few hours. As of Wednesday noon, the post had already garnered over 2,300 reactions and 4,300 shares.
#BabaeAko campaign, a social media underground movement which promotes women’s rights, re-posted Angono MPS’ tips in its own Facebook page around 9:50 p.m. and criticized its content for promoting “victim-blaming” instead of teaching how not to commit the crime.
Particularly, the organizers of #BabaeAko pointed out that tips number two and four, which read: “Huwag magsuot ng maiigsing damit” (Do not wear revealing clothes) and “Kung makikipag-date, huwag uminom ng alak” (If going on a date, do not drink) respectively.
“Items 2 and 4 look problematic in the list. We should write to the Angono Police that the [tips] do not help because men will be able to justify that women are to be blamed for wearing revealing clothes or drinking,” #BabaeAko said in Filipino in the comments section.
“We should also tell them it is not enough that women should protect themselves, and if they fail to follow these tips and get victimized, they are still the ones who should take the blame for their shortcomings,” the group added.
The women’s right movement questioned if the Angono Municipal Police Station had another version of the guidelines which shows how and why men should respect women and transwomen.
“Let’s demand that they change it. Let change be the outcome of our collective will to engage [and] resist,” it said.
Although many agreed with the sentiments of the group, some came to the defense of the Angono Municipal Police Station while others said the guideline encompasses all genders — not only women.
Facebook user Carol Peralta said that she sees nothing wrong with the rape prevention tips, adding that disciplining one’s self is part of preventing the commission of the crime.
“Wala namang masama kung susundin. Nakakalungkot lang bakit parang iba ang pagkakaintindi nila. Para sa atin din namang mga babae iyan kasi tayo ang prone sa ganitong krimen (There’s nothing wrong if we follow it. It’s saddening that some take it the other way. It’s for our sake, too, because we are the ones prone to these kind of crime),” she explained.
Furthermore, Rohan Bondad, another Facebook user, said that the guidelines issued by the Angono Municipal Police Station was “not an exclusive advice for females.”
Meanwhile, Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. took his sentiments to Twitter: 2018 na, pero tila ang burden para hindi ma-rape ay nasa babae pa rin (It’s 2018 already yet it seems the burden to prevent rape remains on women),” he said.
This reporter already reached out to the Police Community Relations Group (PCRG) of the Angono Municipal Police Station for a comment. They have yet to respond.
Rape cases down in MM
Available data from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) showed that rape cases in Metro Manila went down in the first six months of 2018 compared to last year.
A total of 429 rape cases were recorded in Metro Manila alone from January to June 2018, lower than the 483 cases recorded in the same period in 2017.
It translated to an 11 percent decrease in rape cases, the NCRPO said.
According to NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar, the decline could be attributed to the increased and strategic police visibility, particularly in crime-prone areas, and focused operations on suspected criminals especially those engaged in the illegal drug trade.
As to the situation in the whole country, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has yet to provide data on the latest crime record.