Rape is a heinous crime and is considered as a crime against persons. The fact that netizens find it repulsive to watch the rape of a female police officer in the television series “Ang Probinsyano” even though it is common knowledge that it is a work of fiction and the show is rated Strict Parental Guidance by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, indicate that Filipinos share our view that rape is a serious attack on human dignity and is not a laughing matter.
Statistics show that 5% of women in their reproductive age has experienced sexual abuse (NDHS 2017). There are 2,317 rape cases filed before the Philippine National Police (PNP) for the period of January to December 2018.
We defer to the authority of the PNP over the use of the police uniform in the scene. But we can take this particular incident as an eye-opener to bust several myths surrounding rape – the victim is an educated woman and regarded as a person in authority; she is neither wearing a skimpy outfit nor acting flirtatiously to provoke the attacker; she is not having a drinking spree with the perpetrator. Because time and again, we say that a woman’s body, her appearance, or her clothes are not invitations for rape or any form of sexual violence. Rape victims are young and old, rich and poor, a simple worker and a powerful executive, short and tall. People can be raped regardless of their age, sex, civil status, economic status, professional background, or physical attributes such as the color of their skin, body size, facial features, hair style, or what they wear.
The scene also spotlights the fact that the underlying motivation behind sexual violence such as rape is power and control over the victim. It shows how the lawless elements try to wield power and terrorize the community including the police authorities by sexually abusing the female officer. Such kind of scenario is commonly referred to as the use of rape as a weapon of war. It shows us how vulnerable women and children are to sexual violence in conflict situations and acts of lawlessness.
That the netizens openly criticized sexual violence as inappropriate for primetime TV and is a negative influence for the youth tells us that people resist sexism and machismo. It tells us that people are joining our call for putting an end to rape and rape culture by taking it seriously and speaking out against its propagation.
Mass media can be a purveyor of violence but at the same time, it can be an instrument to end that violence.
We hope that more of us will join the cause to end sexual violence, in whatever form. Because as long as there are people and institutions that trivialize rape, normalize sexual violence, embolden perpetrators, and put the blame on the victims, rape culture will continue to persist.