Atienza: Plight of the sexually abused


PACITA reported for work that morning eyes red and swollen from crying. Shaking with anger, she sobbed she had just found out that her husband and child’s stepfather had repeatedly raped her eight-year-old daughter, Inday.

Inday kept silent, fearing her stepfather would kill her and her mother, as he threatened to. Pacita uncovered the truth the day she found her little girl feverish and limping about in pain. By the time she found out why, the wounds and infection related to recurring rapes had taken its toll on Inday’s tender eight-year-old body.

To many, this story is just another tragedy. But when it happens closer to home, it becomes a cataclysmic narrative that demands multiple answers to one heart-rending question “Why?”

Perhaps it starts with poverty. Pacita needs work to feed her family. She would still be at work when Inday was home from school, giving the depraved stepfather ample opportunity to commit his horrific crimes.

Or perhaps it is the prevalent use of alcohol, drugs and other mind-altering substances that lead people to committing senseless atrocities like these.

Then there is the angle of moral education and lack thereof in our educational system. Memorizing multiplication tables is given more importance than learning ethics. It is no consolation to hear that the Department of Education is way up in the corruption index, especially when it comes to ordering textbooks and the like. Indeed, how can one impart moral values when civil servants within the institution itself are themselves immoral?

That said, the sad plight of the sexually abused has only just begun.

Wanting her husband (who had escaped to another island) to be punished for his heinous crime, Pacita reported the incident to the police and filed a case. Inday was then asked to recount and describe her horrifying experiences.

The next step was a visit to Pink Center in Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center for evaluation. The only available time slot for an appointment was a month later. So Pacita pulled the child from school four weeks later and Inday had to recount her horrifying experiences all over again.

When Pacita asked me for another day off two months thereafter because she had to bring Inday to another government agency, I was appalled!

Again? This child had to answer questions and relive her horrific rapes all over again, five months later?

Did our government ever consider the psychological trauma of asking abused children to recall their gruesome experiences multiple times in front of total strangers, simply to fulfill bureaucratic requirements?

The Cebu business sector has been lobbying since time immemorial for a “One-stop Shop” to cut government red tape. Will it take as long to ask for a “One-stop Session” wherein concerned government agencies coordinate appointments so an abused child need relive her ordeal only once? Inaction on this matter can only be attributed to voyeurism on the part of a spineless bureaucracy.

Sexual abuse of children is steadily rising in Cebu. It ranges from rape to prostitution to pedophilia to Internet pornography to illegal activities in the Dark Web. The perpetrators and enablers in most cases are close kin and members of the child’s own family.

Clearly it is time for cities in Cebu and the provincial municipalities to go in tandem with the National Government to put in place the necessary social safety nets for sexually abused children of Cebu.


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