This is one of the stories collected by Time’s Up Ateneo for its online campaign, Stories of Resistance, Stories of Hope: A Series of Online Testimonials about the October 15 Protest and the Anti-Sexual Violence Movement in Ateneo. Through this campaign, Time’s Up Ateneo hopes to generate conversation about how the school can continue toward a gender-responsive, safe, and progressive future, while understanding and addressing its flawed past.
TW: sexual violence
Survivor-Advocate from Protect Our Students! PH
When did you begin to become aware about the issue of sexual violence in Ateneo/your community?
Being a woman in the Philippines, I had always been aware of the rampant sexual misconduct that affects not only students, but people of all ages. Whether it be in school, the marketplace, or even in our own homes, victims would be present left and right; with other people narrating their stories like ghost tales. Meanwhile, these perpetrators would be present at our schools, parties, dinner tables, and essentially everywhere we looked. They would try to warn us of how to avoid them, what to say or do; as if it were possible, as if assault would be our fault and not theirs.
#MCHSDoBetter was the turning point for me. Knowing that there were injustices happening in the places I grew up in, and seeing what collective action could do, I became aware that I had the power to help shift the tide of the movement. With this, I am dedicated to ensure that others feel the same.
What can you say about how Ateneo (or institutions in general) has handled the sexual violence issue so far?
The mishandling of cases in the past has been an important issue, and one that we cannot afford to forget. However, the enactment and promotion of the Safe Spaces Act within the school has been a big step forward, alongside the existence of organizations/formations such as Time’s Up Ateneo, ASHS Safe Spaces, and LS Sanggunian’s CASMV. The ability of independent formations to thrive and work with the administration and victims has helped greatly towards the movement and victim welfare. However, I believe there is more to be done in ensuring that victims receive the justice that they deserve, such as emotional, mental, and community support.
What did the October 15, 2019 protest against sexual violence in Ateneo mean to you?
It was my first in year in Ateneo, and while I had never been involved in collective action against sexual misconduct at the time, the protests were reassurance that there was a community in Ateneo that cared for issues that were often overlooked or worse, undermined.
It was empowering that people took a stand against the inaction of an administration, and the protest has had great impact on me today. Its existence is a reminder that we are stronger together, survivors and advocates alike, and sets a precedent for other schools that justice is a right that can ceaselessly be demanded.
What does the movement against sexual violence mean to you?
It means my freedom. It means justice for survivors. It means a change in the society that once lived to merely see women as objects.
Slowly and surely we’re saying no to the abuse we’ve had to endure in the past, and are able to empower ourselves by taking collective action.
Above all, it allows me to envision a future where we no longer have to fight for the right to not be assaulted, and to be believed and taken care of when it happens.
Hear more from Kit and join us in this continuing conversation on October 31 at 8pm at Time’s Up Ateneo’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/TimesUpAteneo).
If you would like to share your story in this campaign, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.