GABRIELA Ontario supports #FilipinasSpeakOut, stands by Rachelle Cruz

Opinion & Analysis Nov 28, 2018 at 3:24 pm

GABRIELA Ontario stands with Toronto-based reporter and TV show host, Rachelle Cruz, in her campaign Filipinas Speak Out (#FilipinasSpeakOut), which aims to raise awareness on sexual violence and empower survivors to speak up and seek help. We also commend her courage in deciding to write her story and use it to uplift others.

Sexual assault, harassment and abuse against women are subjects that have come up in the media and have generated discourse in the mainstream, as reports of powerful and famous women gave rise to the #MeToo movement. Responses have been mixed–on one hand, women have been empowered to speak about their own experiences generating discourse about the matter; on the other, there has been vicious backlash, blaming or questioning the credibility of women who speak up.

Sexual assault is the only violent crime in Canada that is not declining; at least 28,551 self-reported cases are included in social survey data throughout Canada last year. Among members of Canada Filipino community, there are significant experiences of gender-based violence as shared through frontline workers. However, these cases go unreported, mainly because of community stigma.

In the Filipino community, much has to be done in terms of addressing gender-based violence and patriarchy. Long-held feudal-patriarchal values–where women and children are considered properties of men, have lower status, have no right in decision-making and generally inferior–shame victims or survivors for coming forward, speaking out, and reporting their feelings and emotions.

This is also why, unfortunately though not surprisingly, certain sections of the Filipino community have also placed Rachelle’s credibility in question. They ignore the fact that Rachelle wrote her story, not for the purpose of going after her assailant, and choose to sensationalize the issue by focusing on the question of “Who was Rachelle’s attacker?” Pressuring a survivor of sexual assault to relive the experience by asking for details is an act of victim-blaming. It is not only unfair, it’s also dangerous. Blaming the victim leads many women to believe abuse is their fault and allows the perpetrator to defend and continue without rectification. It is precisely these types of attitudes and responses that are the reasons GABRIELA Ontario feels that #FilipinasSpeakOut is an important campaign to be supported.

GABRIELA Ontario will work with Rachelle Cruz, other women and concerned members of the Filipino community and the larger Canadian community to raise awareness and break the silence about sexual violence against women, and all forms of gender-based violence.





Read Rachelle Cruz’s #MeToo Story