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My brave heart is crying

9 Jul

Now he’s free. Roaming around again like a hungry dog, maybe eyeing for his next victims.

The thought of him eyeing for another helpless being crushes my heart, letting me draw back to that very morning his demon played over my innocence. I was like a li’l baby then, sleeping silently, letting myself have an ample sleep and rest from weekend-long activities.  I was drawn to sleep, my spirit wandering in the serenity of my dreams. Unknowingly, I was already being victimized by an evil whose only goal is to feed his lust and fill his jar with broken innocent hearts and angry souls.

That very hour, I wanted to kill him with my own hands, like he did with his hand on my breast, playing it as if his own little toy. I wanted to crush his face like he crushed my heart when he took advantage of me.

But I can’t. And I won’t.

This painful experience took place in a bus, on my ride back home from a training camp in Ilocos Sur. Since there is no direct trip from Vigan City to Nueva Ecija, where I live, I had to take a cutting trip taking Villasis, Pangasinan as my first stop. At 4 am, just before I reach Villasis, 10 minutes to be exact, I felt something hard pressing on my right breast and eventually moving in circles for seconds. I was awakened by such pressing and circling motions happening on top of my breast. And to my great disgust, I found the man sitting right next to me doing this pervert, disrespectful, taking advantage act.

I did not shout nor slapped him instantly the moment I learned what he was doing. I only looked at him sharply in the eyes, letting him know I have been awaken by his lustful play. I did not, because I know minutes from then, I’ll be stepping down from the bus.

Ten minutes seemed to be forever. I battled with myself whether to just let it pass or should I slap him and let him know he can’t go away easily. I chose the latter.

The bus stopped. The driver motioned me to go down. But before I did, I slapped him hard on the face and told him, “Sana naisip mong babae rin ang nanay mo! (You should have thought your mother is also a woman like me!)”

I wasn’t aware then that we had our stop just in front of a police station. And with the concerned look from the driver and the chauffeur, they helped me call the police. And with the market guards around, they picked the pervert man and put him behind bars.

I didn’t know anyone in that place but I was determined that no matter how many hours it would take me, I won’t let that perv go away easily. I filed a case and he was made liable.

After receiving the copy of the case I filed, I went home with a victorious heart and tearful eyes.

On my ride back, I started to cry. I cried because I thought of that man’s wife who was crying and begging in front of me to forgive his husband and settle the case amicably instead. I pity her for having such kind of man. I also thought of their children. Is it possible he has harassed them, too? I hope not, but I can’t convince myself that he didn’t. I cried because I thought of the other girls he might have played his lustful hands to like what he did to me. I cried because I know how such anguish feels. I cried because I thought of those women who were also victims of sexual harassments but only conceded to their friends, to themselves, or to their journals alone. Then the case is forgotten, leaving the offender guiltless and busy making his list of victims longer.

Now that he has bailed out, I am crying again, my heart is being crippled with the thought: How many more children and women are to be abused now that he is roaming free? And how many more men are there on the streets, in the bus, in the school or in the office, or anywhere, who is just like him, eyeing on their next victims? How many more women are still unable to distinguish the assault and violence made on them as violence of their rights?

And how many of us can really fight these demons around?

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Healing ourselves, healing Motherland

26 Feb

It’s been almost a week since the first YSAGE-CAR echo camp was successfully launched. Yet, the energy and inspirations reaped from the camp are still vividly reverberating in my heart. For sure, all the participants including my co-facilitators (who were graduates from previous camps) share the same feeling.

The Cordilleras is known as one of the regions whose culture has a very strong hold on its people’s beliefs and actions to which roots the gender biases inevitably happening in its land. But as Heber “Ongko” Layag (9th YMC) said, “We should accept that there is really something wrong in our culture and let us act to change it. It is not very easy, but if we begin making steps in changing it, it is not impossible.”

In 2007, I have graduated from a similar camp in Sagada, Mountain Province organized by the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP). Undergoing such camp was the most important thing that happened in my life. This is because it molded me into who I am today—hopeful, fighter, leader and most importantly, feminist.

And because my passion in helping empower other young bloods remained embedded in my system, the first echo camp in CAR came to being. This, of course, was also because of the inspirations from other co-graduates from the other parts of the country who have productively conducted several echo camps which includes Palawan, Davao and Negros.

The camp was an important venue for young minds to discuss about gender issues, sexuality, and prostitution and its effect on us as individuals, the society we thrive in and the planet as a whole. Seeing another batch of young leaders graduating from this camp is intoxicating. All throughout the camp, I saw tears, heard plights of painful experiences, and felt knots in my stomach as I see these young bloods reflect from the past and the present. But at the same time, I felt the empowerment gradually, strongly rising from their hearts.

Francis Fernandez, who celebrated his birthday on the third day of the camp, said, “Graduating from the camp is the best gift I ever had.” Brian Paloa-ay, also one of the young men’s participants, confessed that he feels so blessed for joining the camp because he became a changed person. Mariflor Basilio also shared that the camp made her realize how important it is to learn how to feel confident about herself as a woman. For the young men participants, they said that they want to apologize to every woman and LGBTs that they have ridiculed or hurt in one way or another because of the double standard that we have in our society. Both the young women and young men participants showed how very eager they are to start taking the journey together with us.

Now that the amazing three-day echo camp has passed, most of the participants are still reflecting on what they have experienced as they continue to go on about their daily lives, including the old members.

This time, however, it’s time to keep moving forward. The camp is not only about empowering ourselves, equipping us with right understanding about the issues surrounding us in our day-to-day lives, but it is also about empowering other youths to make the change we all yearn to happen. Indeed, the journey we are taking is not an easy road but as we inculcate our learning by heart, we are already one step forward towards our goal. This is also the reason why we have to keep on empowering other people. The battlefield out there is wide and scary but as we grow in number, then we shall prevail.

I believe that investing in youth is building a strong and committed society towards materializing the change we opt to have. The youth is a very significant backbone for social change. We shall help other youth to discover their potential in bringing changes in their lives, families, and communities and our nation itself. We shall keep fighting for our cause and never walk away for this is not just about healing our selves but more importantly, about healing our Motherland.

For gender equality, we remain.

BEWARE OF BOYFRIENDS/INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP PARTNERS LIKE THESE

10 Dec

Both men and women could be victims, but men and women abuse their partners in different ways. Women are more likely to yell, to threaten by hurting themselves, to pinch, to slap, to scratch, or even kick. Men injure their partner more than women. They are more likely to punch their partners, and they force them to participate in unwanted sexual activity. Violence and abuse affect all kinds of people everyday. It doesn’t matter what race or culture you come from, how much money you have, or if you have a disability. It is most common among women between ages 15 and 54, but it can happen to anybody at any age.

How can you detect boyfriends or suitors who will most likely become wife-beaters and abusers? What traits do they have and why should you avoid them and be wary of them?

Before you decide to commit to a long-term relationship with your boyfriend, pause for a minute and look into your past experiences with him.

The following are clear signals that you should heed and should not ignore. If your boyfriend has one or more of the following traits, this is the time to rethink your commitment to him:

•He deliberately hurts you physically, pushes or shoves you toward the wall or grabs your arms until they turn black and blue.

•He forces you to break the law or coerces you to go against your morals or ideals.

•He threatens or intimidates you by using his physical strength, or he does so with a knife, gun or any other harmful object.

•He dislikes or does not permit you to do things you were used to, like involving yourself in sports or hobbies.

•He dislikes or does not permit you to be with your personal friends and acquaintances.

•He watches your every move, He limits your activities to the point that you have to ask his permission to go out, He checks up on your friends and reminds you constantly that he is a jealous man.

•He blames you of his anger.

•He destroys your things whenever he is angry at you.

•He is often hot-tempered or he directs his anger at other people or animals (it is almost certain that he would soon direct his anger on you).

•He lowers or destroys your self-esteem or self-confidence.

•He looks down on you, insults or curses you, or calls you names even in front of other people.

•He treats you like a servant or not his equal.

•He does not respect his own mother or any women in general.

•He greatly fears being left by you and lets you know it.

•He threatens to kill or hurt himself every time you have a misunderstanding.

references:

http://www.womensandorthopedics.com

http://www.edvp.org/AboutDV/wheel.htm

saveourwomen, inc,

Celebrating women’s rights, human rights

10 Dec

November 25. This day marked the beginning of the celebration of the 16 days of activism worldwide. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign that was started by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) in 1991. The 16 Days runs from November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women (VAW) to December 10, International Human Rights Day, to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1, which is World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in 1989, when 14 women students were massacred by a lone gun-man opposed to the affirmative action policies promoted by feminists at the University of Montreal.

I attended an international conference at New Delhi, India from November 21-29 which is the Oxfam International Youth Partnership (OIYP) Kaleidoscope 2010 organized by Oxfam International, an international confederation of 14 organizations working together in 99 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. OIYP is a global network of young people who share a vision of a just world and are committed to working for peaceful, equitable and sustainable social change within their communities.

To show our support to this campaign, I together with my “Gender group” went to Jahangeer Puri, North Delhi, as part of our community visit during the conference. There we joined the Action India, a group of feminists who campaign against foeticide, and its men and women allies who marched to fight for their rights, celebrate the lives of newly born babies and honor the mothers who fought for the right of their baby girls to be born.

In India, foeticide has been practiced as part of their culture of which female foetuses are being selectively aborted after pre-natal sex determination, thus avoiding the birth of girls. Female foeticide is an extreme manifestation of violence against women. As a result of selective abortion, between 35 and 40 million girls and women are missing from the Indian population. In some parts of the country, the sex ratio of girls to boys has dropped to less than 800:1,000. This connotes that the killing of women exists in various forms in societies all over the world. The Indian society pictures practices unique and particularly brutal versions among women which include dowry deaths (bride-burning) and sati (Hindu custom in India in which the widow was burnt to ashes on her dead husband’s pyre).

Seeing a group of men and women who marched together toward this cause was very inspiring. I may not know much about these customs in India but it is very clear that these are just but one of the many ways of which women’s rights are being violated and that those women are seen “menaces” in the society instead of being “part” of the society they thrive in.

November 26. Action partners from the Latin America initiated the “Light a candle to end Violence Against Women”. APs who are gender advocates from the different countries of the world joined the activity at the lobby of the Centaur Hotel, New Delhi. We convened to show our strong opposition on the abuses and violence suffered by women in different societies with different cultural practices.

We formed a circle while we pray for all the victim-survivors of abuses as we light up our candles. We echoed our support toward ending violence against women. I stepped up in the center of the circle, lift my lighted candle and prayed for all the victim-survivors of prostitution, domestic and intimate relationship violence, sexual abuses and harassments, killings and other forms of violence, and expressed my oneness to all the LGBTQs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queers), and men and women who are all working towards the same cause.

This simple activity unlocked the door toward understanding the different forms of violence under different contexts. It made us further realize that in this kind of inequality happening in our respective communities, women are the most disadvantaged. There enters our role to be their voices to be heard and their hands to be reached.

November 28. This day marked the celebration of the Third Queer Pride Parade. A large number of queer people, along with the ‘straight but not narrow’ allies of the queer community (and I belong to this J) came all together to celebrate the dignity and rights of sexually marginalized people all across India and the world.

The event was not just a celebration among the queer community. It was also an avenue to protest against the discrimination faced by queers and make a statement of hope for a world where all people live with freedom, dignity, and respect.

Originally, the word “queer” simply meant “odd” or “unusual”. In the past century, the word came to be used as a slur for anyone who isn’t gender normative or who deviates from society’s definition of sexually normal behavior. Recently, however, people across the world have reclaimed the word “queer” to empower, celebrate and unite all those who may feel marginalized because of their diverse identities and sexualities.

Queerness is about celebrating diversity. Queer people can be gay, kothi, lesbian, queen, dyke, transgender, transsexual, bisexual, hijra, butch, panthi, femme, fairy, MSM, FSF, genderqueer, androgynous, asexual, questioning, bicurious or even heterosexual queers. Queer Pride affirms diverse expression and calls attention to everyday struggle for respect and dignity.

The march was done to show that queer people in India face violence and discrimination from many different quarters. Queers and allies in Delhi marched with rainbow stripes to show diversity. People shouted for freedom, danced for joy, hugged for happiness, and held hands for oneness. Everyone shouted for equality among Indians, love over hate, and acceptance over tolerance.

Indeed, may they be lesbian, gay, or whatever we call them, still they are human beings who deserve to exercise their human rights.

Inequalities happen in many different forms in every part of the world. The battle continues toward attaining gender equality. It is still a long way to go, indeed. But as we see numerous groups of women and men, the feminist groups, rising in their respective communities for their rights to be recognized, and witness the queer community go out from their closets and freely express themselves, is highly gaining momentum to make us realize that winning this battle is not impossible.

As we join our hands to attain gender equality, it is very important to understand that gender equality is not only for men nor not only for women but both for men and women alike. We should understand that both genders play equally important roles in our society. After all, both are human beings and both need each other to survive.

It is then a challenge for us to keep empowered and stand tall on what we are fighting for. Inequalities happen in different contexts as different culture are also on the way. To all the women, we must believe in ourselves that we can stand for our rights and eventually believe in our co-women that they can stand for their rights too. To all the activists pursuing gender equality, kudos to all of you! It is still a long way to traverse but we can do it. WE WILL DO IT.

Let us show to the world that the partnership of both genders is indispensable to boost success, sustainable development and global change. We will serve as an inspiration to other marginalized men, women and queer community who also seek empowerment for success.

Thank you to Oxfam International for making me a part of the 8-day kaleidoscope in India. I learned a lot of experiences, diversities and respecting each other’s cultures. We will continue to work FOR and WITH our respective communities.// Joahna G. Goyagoy, Philippines

Sources:

http://www.iheu.org/female-foeticide-in-india

http://www.womankind.org.uk/16-days-of-activism.html

http://adaniel.tripod.com/sati.htm

Celebrating women’s rights, human rights

2 Dec

November 25. This day marked the beginning of the celebration of the 16 days of activism worldwide. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign that was started by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) in 1991. The 16 Days runs from November 25, International Day Against Violence Against Women (VAW) to December 10, International Human Rights Day, to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a violation of human rights.

This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1, which is World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre in 1989, when 14 women students were massacred by a lone gun-man opposed to the affirmative action policies promoted by feminists at the University of Montreal.

I attended an international conference at New Delhi, India from November 21-29 which is the Oxfam International Youth Partnership (OIYP) Kaleidoscope 2010 organized by Oxfam International, an international confederation of 14 organizations working together in 99 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. OIYP is a global network of young people who share a vision of a just world and are committed to working for peaceful, equitable and sustainable social change within their communities.

To show our support to this campaign, I together with my “Gender group” went to Jahangeer Puri, North Delhi, as part of our community visit during the conference. There we joined the Action India, a group of feminists who campaign against foeticide, and its men and women allies who marched to fight for their rights, celebrate the lives of newly born babies and honor the mothers who fought for the right of their baby girls to be born.

In India, foeticide has been practiced as part of their culture of which female foetuses are being selectively aborted after pre-natal sex determination, thus avoiding the birth of girls. Female foeticide is an extreme manifestation of violence against women. As a result of selective abortion, between 35 and 40 million girls and women are missing from the Indian population. In some parts of the country, the sex ratio of girls to boys has dropped to less than 800:1,000. This connotes that the killing of women exists in various forms in societies all over the world. The Indian society pictures practices unique and particularly brutal versions among women which include dowry deaths (bride-burning) and sati (Hindu custom in India in which the widow was burnt to ashes on her dead husband’s pyre).

Seeing a group of men and women who marched together toward this cause was very inspiring. I may not know much about these customs in India but it is very clear that these are just but one of the many ways of which women’s rights are being violated and that those women are seen “menaces” in the society instead of being “part” of the society they thrive in.

November 26. Action partners from the Latin America initiated the “Light a candle to end Violence Against Women”. APs who are gender advocates from the different countries of the world joined the activity at the lobby of the Centaur Hotel, New Delhi. We convened to show our strong opposition on the abuses and violence suffered by women in different societies with different cultural practices.

We formed a circle while we pray for all the victim-survivors of abuses as we light up our candles. We echoed our support toward ending violence against women. I stepped up in the center of the circle, lift my lighted candle and prayed for all the victim-survivors of prostitution, domestic and intimate relationship violence, sexual abuses and harassments, killings and other forms of violence, and expressed my oneness to all the LGBTQs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queers), and men and women who are all working towards the same cause.

This simple activity unlocked the door toward understanding the different forms of violence under different contexts. It made us further realize that in this kind of inequality happening in our respective communities, women are the most disadvantaged. There enters our role to be their voices to be heard and their hands to be reached.
November 28. This day marked the celebration of the Third Queer Pride Parade. A large number of queer people, along with the ‘straight but not narrow’ allies of the queer community (and I belong to this ) came all together to celebrate the dignity and rights of sexually marginalized people all across India and the world.

The event was not just a celebration among the queer community. It was also an avenue to protest against the discrimination faced by queers and make a statement of hope for a world where all people live with freedom, dignity, and respect.
Originally, the word “queer” simply meant “odd” or “unusual”. In the past century, the word came to be used as a slur for anyone who isn’t gender normative or who deviates from society’s definition of sexually normal behavior. Recently, however, people across the world have reclaimed the word “queer” to empower, celebrate and unite all those who may feel marginalized because of their diverse identities and sexualities.

Queerness is about celebrating diversity. Queer people can be gay, kothi, lesbian, queen, dyke, transgender, transsexual, bisexual, hijra, butch, panthi, femme, fairy, MSM, FSF, genderqueer, androgynous, asexual, questioning, bicurious or even heterosexual queers. Queer Pride affirms diverse expression and calls attention to everyday struggle for respect and dignity.

The march was done to show that queer people in India face violence and discrimination from many different quarters. Queers and allies in Delhi marched with rainbow stripes to show diversity. People shouted for freedom, danced for joy, hugged for happiness, and held hands for oneness. Everyone shouted for equality among Indians, love over hate, and acceptance over tolerance.

Indeed, may they be lesbian, gay, or whatever we call them, still they are human beings who deserve to exercise their human rights.

Inequalities happen in many different forms in every part of the world. The battle continues toward attaining gender equality. It is still a long way to go, indeed. But as we see numerous groups of women and men, the feminist groups, rising in their respective communities for their rights to be recognized, and witness the queer community go out from their closets and freely express themselves, is highly gaining momentum to make us realize that winning this battle is not impossible.
As we join our hands to attain gender equality, it is very important to understand that gender equality is not only for men nor not only for women but both for men and women alike. We should understand that both genders play equally important roles in our society. After all, both are human beings and both need each other to survive.

It is then a challenge for us to keep empowered and stand tall on what we are fighting for. Inequalities happen in different contexts as different culture are also on the way. To all the women, we must believe in ourselves that we can stand for our rights and eventually believe in our co-women that they can stand for their rights too. To all the activists pursuing gender equality, kudos to all of you! It is still a long way to traverse but we can do it. WE WILL DO IT.

Let us show to the world that the partnership of both genders is indispensable to boost success, sustainable development and global change. We will serve as an inspiration to other marginalized men, women and queer community who also seek empowerment for success.
Thank you to Oxfam International for making me a part of the 8-day kaleidoscope in India. I learned a lot of experiences, diversities and respecting each other’s cultures. We will continue to work FOR and WITH our respective communities.// Joahna G. Goyagoy, Philippines

Sources:
http://www.iheu.org/female-foeticide-in-india
http://www.womankind.org.uk/16-days-of-activism.html
http://adaniel.tripod.com/sati.htm