I lost my ticket to London
I lost my ticket to London. This is either because I don’t have the capability to end sexual violence in conflict or I just plainly suck at writing. Merely a month ago, I decided to join an essay writing contest, the first time I ever did. Except for the fact that the closest I could get comfortably to readers are through my business articles at The Manila Times, I’m really not comfortable writing about other things for other things. The competition was simple. They only asked interested participants to write a 600-words essay regarding sexual violence in conflict. This, for an all expense paid trip in London.
I drooled. I did not hesitate even once about joining. And so I did but I lost. I really wanted to go to London but at some point, my intentions were off track. I was supposed to help end rape at times of war but I barely know anything about that. I was supposed to give my 100 percent but my ignorance is already a great disadvantage.
Anyway, here’s how I tried:
End the stigma of rape. Women and children have suffered throughout decades on the weight of sexual violence in conflict. In times of war over years and years ago, rape had become one of the weapons of abolition, not only to the entirety of a nation but also to the dignity of each of the woman sexually abused. Forced sex during wars symbolizes dominance and submission to it, which stitches a perpetual wound to the country’s history and to its people. As a concept, the idea of rape becomes much cruel than murder because it depicts a picture of powerlessness being witnessed and felt alive. The shame it causes eventually became immeasurable with stigmatization lingering through time. As a result, perpetrators became aware of how successful sexual violence is as a weapon in wartime while individually, victims isolate themselves in embarrassment. This, until we recognize that rape is not just something that happens in war but a war on its own.
During the World War 2, Philippines suffered from the dictatorship of Japan. Behind the history of the military takeover is another battle that the Filipino women faced against extreme sexual violence from the ‘comfort women system’ of the foreign troupe, which imposed sex slavery to approximately 200,000 women during that time.
‘For soldiers who risked their lives in circumstances where bullets are flying around like rain and wind, if you want them to get some rest a comfort women system was necessary. That’s clear to anyone,’ said Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka, Japan.
Hashimoto didn’t escape critiques over his remarks. He was condemned by many and was even called “outrageous and offensive” by the US government. To date, former comfort women from the Philippines are calling for justice, asking the Japanese government to apologize, recognize, acknowledge and admit accountability for wartime atrocities it committed against them.
Whether it was done to satisfy their needs or establish dominance against the women of the Philippines, this occurrence is still a vital part of our history, a deeply carved wound that stays unhealed. What made it worse is that comfort women system did not only happen to the Philippines but also to other countries. For instance, Arirang News just recently reported that earlier this month, senior diplomats from Korea and Japan held a second round of talks regarding sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War Two; and the list goes on.
Aside from removing social stigma, which causes anxiety to the victim of sexual violence, the call for justice should remain intact and strong. Rape in times of war, or other community conflicts, still happens today. If the previous cases of sexual violence in conflict were not recognized and apologized for by the parties that committed it despite it happening decades ago, then this will repeat over and over. The governments who let this violence happened should take responsibility for it, make apologies, and offer cure for the damage.