Victim-blaming in Christine Dacera case ‘unacceptable’, says CHR

Published January 12, 2021, 2:25 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has grown alarmed over the victim-blaming and gender stereotyping incidents surrounding the Christine Dacera case, and has urged the public to put a stop to this “unacceptable” behavior.

Christine Dacera

Karen S. Gomez-Dumpit, Focal Commissioner on Women and LGBTQI+ Issues, said in a statement that victim-blaming disrespects the victim and causes anguish to her family. At the same time, gender stereotyping the perpetrators has put a strain on the LGBTQI+ community.

“As the Gender Ombud, the Commission takes this occasion to reiterate that victim-blaming is unacceptable, especially in cases of gender-based violence. Instead of responding to the act of violence in this case, as well as addressing the root causes of the human rights violation, victim-blaming is a violation of a woman’s dignity and shifts the focus of the investigation on what the victim wore, the company she kept, and the places she went to,” Gomez-Dumpit said.

When people resort to victim-blaming, the violence experienced by the victim is trivialized and the woman is demonized because it creates the perception that “she had it coming.” People who think this way make the victim appear unworthy of protection and remedies.

“It must be remembered that the crux of gender-based violence cases are the acts of violence committed by the perpetrator, and never the character of the woman. We must all strive to stop victim-blaming,” urged Gomez-Dumpit.

She stressed that rape is a grave and serious human rights violation requiring urgent and immediate response from the state. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Committee requires no less than the exercise by state authorities of due diligence in responding to all cases of violence against women.

The CHR has vowed to continue monitoring the circumstances surrounding the death of Dacera. Based on what the Commission has gathered, it noted that there is rampant gender stereotyping against the alleged perpetrators.

“Some of the alleged perpetrators came out explaining their side, including revealing their sexual orientation. This has led to comments like ‘kahit bakla yan, may instinct yan… Lalo na if under the influence of intoxicating alcohol,’ (even if he is gay, he has instincts… Especially if under the influence of intoxicating alcohol),” she said.

Gomez-Dumpit warned that this kind of thinking assumes that all men, regardless of sexual orientation, would prey on women once drunk.

“This normalizes predatory sexual behavior of men, dismisses diversity of sexual orientation, and digresses from the task of properly inquiring into a case of gender–based violence,” she said.

Statements like that, especially when said by people in authority, show utter lack of sensitivity and understanding on issues pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“While it is true that the crime of rape can be committed regardless of the sexual orientation of the perpetrator, in this particular case, the premature announcement of rape and murder is simply irresponsible and reckless,” she warned.

The CHR has lamented that the circumstances surrounding the death of Dacera remain “wanting,” so the government should conduct a thorough, prompt, effective, and impartial investigation before making any premature statements to the media.

“If rape was indeed committed, then the same must be addressed and justice must be served. However, later reports of the police tend to cast doubts about the commission of rape. If the initial report did not jump into a hasty conclusion that it was a ‘rape-slay case,’ the otherwise private lives of the victim and the alleged perpetrators would not have been thrust to the limelight,” said Gomez-Dumpit.