For some, the term “hija” brings a sense of familiarity. Most of us were even called “hija” by our elders as a term of endearment. In Spanish, “hija” means daughter, child, or a girl. It sounds very simple that’s why it came as a surprise when it suddenly become a movement— the #HijaAko Movement.
This all started on Twitter after Ben Tulfo called out Frankie Pangilinan with a condescending tweet that said, “Hija, a rapist or a juvenile sex offender’s desire to commit a crime will always be there. All they need is an opportunity, when to commit the crime. Sexy ladies, careful with the way you dress up! You are inviting the beast,” after Pangilinan tweeted that people should stop teaching girls how to dress and teach people not to rape instead.
As expected, many netizens called Tulfo out which gave birth to many Filipinos using the hashtag #HijaAko as they share their own stories of harassment where they point out how it occurred even if they we’re wearing revealing clothes.
Who would’ve thought that we’re going to have this kind of conversation again and in the middle of a pandemic?! But this kind of discussion isn’t exactly new.
There has been multiple feminism movements on the internet already like the #MeToo Movement where people started to call out their sexual abusers.
There’s actually just one reason why these movements continue to exist: rape culture.
Basically rape culture is a culture where sexual violence is treated as the norm and victims are blamed for their own assaults. It’s not exactly the violence itself but the cultural norm that pressures women to not to speak out in order to stay safe.
And within rape culture, sexual violence is accepted, justified, and not challenged enough by society.
This might be the reason why Ben Tulfo didn’t even think twice when he tweeted that because he’s confident that he’s right. Let’s just say, he’s the epitome of the status of rape culture in the Philippines.
As a woman, it’s hard for me to believe that it’s the victims’ fault why they were violated when there are already many cases of innocent children and even toddlers who get raped. More so when the Philippine National Police showed data where 602 people in the country were raped from March 17 to May 13, which is an average of eight people daily.
But even with all of the evidence that is available to every Filipinos, why are there still people like Tulfo? In truth, rape culture exists because we let it.
No matter how much awareness there is in the country as long as we don’t recognize its ruthless reality, more victims will suffer. There are still many victims who don’t report sexual assault or harassment because they are scared and afraid of being misjudged.
It doesn’t also help that in our country, victims who have experienced rape are caused by their intimate partners, friends, and members of the family. In addition to that, Philippines is still predominantly patriarchal where Filipino machismo, misogyny and toxic masculinity come together, which our own president embodies.
Standing against rape culture might be difficult, but there are a lot of ways how to do it. There might be a lot of choices how to do it but personally the most important is educating yourself and acknowledging the stories of the victims, not blaming them. Once you’ve done that, educate members of your family and most importantly educate the next generation.
No matter how small or big your ways are, it’s a huge progress even if we still have a long way to go.
Sexual violence is just one out of thousands of things that our country has to be completely understanding and aware about. It’s difficult because no matter how much you want everybody around you to be knowledgeable about these societal issues, we know that there are still many Filipinos who don’t prioritize being politically correct because why worry about these issues when you don’t know where to get food for your family the next day?