LAST year, a couple of stories about a girl who was walking to her boarding house and was raped on her way back. I still have not confirmed how true these stories are, but a church member who helped the girl told us the story. Prior to the siege, news blackouts happen a lot here in Marawi City.
People love sensationalized stories like these. While my heart broke at what happened to the young student, comments from other hearers start to rise:
“Why was she walking on her own at that hour?”
“It was her fault for walking alone at night.”
“Everyone knows it’s dangerous to go home late at night in that area. She shouldn’t have gone home before 7 p.m. if she lives there.”
It was all the more frustrating to hear the listeners to easily shove the fault to the victim.
It was not as if she willingly gave herself to the attackers.
In other cities, it would have even be alright for college students to go home even as late as midnight, while in the community where the girl lives, you would be at fault if you go later than 7 p.m.
The spectators never even considered that she was a college student who surely had requirements and deadlines to work on. There will be several opportunities where going home late would be necessary.
Sometimes, students like here have to take risks.
There are also no bars or night clubs here in Marawi to pass the time by, so she surely had not been out to have fun.
But regardless of the reasons why she went home late, is it her fault that she had not been walking in safe streets to go home?
It had also been the case in cases of holdups, house robberies, and kidnappings here, now and before. Most of the stories that flutter in the community would hand over all the blame mostly on the victims.
Similar comments such as “Why did they take that road?” or “If you’re going to walk late at night, why did you bring a cellphone?” is another round of reasons hearers would say.
Friends have even started joking that students, faculty, and staff here should consider President Donald Trump’s proposal for teachers in America to carry concealed weapons. It is actually something already practiced by some. Some constituents of the University have or are already done so, whether it be bringing guns at school or keep in their homes. For them, it was a means to protect themselves.
Why were some pushed to defending themselves, rather than entrusting their safety to the authorities?
People reason out that the town is dangerous, that there are not much security forces roaming around, that the security force hired lack training, and that this town had long had a bad reputation when it comes to safety.
But then, when the constituents get caught in trouble, it was easier to conclude that it was the victim’s fault.
Were there even remedies offered to solve the problems stated above?
Just because we chose to stay in this place means it would now be our fault if we get in trouble in our stay here.
After the siege, students – both the less fortunate ones or those who want Mindanao State University Marawi’s quality education – have risked continuing their studies here because of the need to finish what they have started in hopes of finally earning the degrees they worked hard for.
Somehow, since we are conscious of the choices we made when we decided to stay in such a place – regardless of what city it may be – you are accountable of your choices and your actions.
However, how much efforts have already been laid down to ensure the safety of those who stay in the community?