#IStandWithHer: Justice for Barbie Inocencio and the Rest of the Victims of Violence

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Posted December 9, 2019 from Philippines

As I'm writing this, I'm listening to Les Miserables Do You Hear The People Sing? It's a revolutionary song calling for freedom. This my "fight song" as we end the campaign on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. 

The truth is I've been wanting to write the story about the 16-year-old Barbie Inocencio whose mysterious death left me feeling downtrodden. I couldn't find the strength to put the incident into words. My energy got so drained. It felt like I was punched and knocked out while fighting "in the arena". Her case reminded me that there are thousands of women in the Philippines who were victims of rape and murder. 

I grieved for days. It was as if I lost a daughter or a sister or a niece. Even as I write this, my tears won't stop falling. It is just too much evil. So listening to this song gives me the needed motivation to speak up. I needed to hear the line, " This is the music of the people who will not be slaves again!"

So here's the story.

Barbie's mother reported that her 10th-grade daughter was missing on December 2, 2019, when the student didn't arrive home. She was unable to contact her. 

On December 4, 2019, Barbie's body "was found her hands tied and placed on a sack in a waterway past 2 p.m". (Source

On social media, there is a viral video of the mother screaming in pain as authorities retrieved her daughter's body near the irrigation canal. Watching the video was too much for me to bear. I was filled with frustration, pain, and outrage. 

The news broke out in the middle of the 16 Days of Activism. It seems the enemy is too powerful to be defeated. 

I scanned through the newsfeeds of my Facebook friends from the Philippines, most of their posts were more about the South East Asian Games that our country was hosting, personal stories, or the incoming typhoon. I felt alone as I post #JusticeforBarbie and #IStandWithHer.  Barbie became an added statistic to the number of murders of girls and women in my country.

On the evening news, together with Barbie's case, a woman was raped and beheaded. Her identity is unknown without her head. I felt powerless. Who will stand with these women?

I was so devastated that I felt so exhausted, thus I posted on Facebook, " I drop my sword and cry for just a while." And weep, I did.

I want to say thank you to all who reached out to me, especially to our World Pulse sisters who sent hugs, prayers, empathy, and support. In those down moments, I realized I was not alone in this fight after all.

As I continue to #LogOnRiseUp to encourage our sisters, I read stories from all over the globe of women changemakers who continue to do their share of their fight against violence against women and girls. Their campaigns gave me hope. We can do these together, after all.

 

So today, no matter how late this post came to be, I share my commitment to stand with her.

To every baby, toddler, child who is a victim of cybersex and child pornography in our country, #IStandWithHer

To every girl child who is sold by her own parents or grandparents to prostitution, making her body as their source of income, #IStandWithHer

To every schoolgirl who was raped and murder on her way home from school, #IStandWithHer

To every victim of incest, #IStandWithHer.

To every girl or woman who is assaulted with sexual violence while taking shelter in an evacuation camp, #IStandWithHer.

To every wife who quietly cries due to domestic violence but cannot leave her abuser because of fear from society's judgment, #IStandWithHer.

To every youth or woman who was tricked to have better-paying jobs abroad only to end up in trafficking. #IStandWithHer.

To every woman suffering from mental health illness because the violence she suffers in her life is too much to bear alone, #IStandWithHer.

To every woman who has a #MeToo story, #IStandWithHer.

To every sister who fights with violence against women and girls, #IStandWithHer.

 

To end, I will leave you all with this revolutionary song, with a few tweaks on the lyrics (because why not?) :

 

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing a song of brave women?

It is the music of a people

Who will not be slaves again!

 

When the beating of your heart

Echoes the beating of the drums

There is a life about to start

When tomorrow comes.

 

Will you join in our crusade?

Who will be strong and stand with me?

Beyond the barricade

Is there a world you long to see?

Then join in the fight

That will give you the right to be free!

 

Will you give all you can give

So that our banner may advance?

Some will fall and some will live

Will you stand up and take your chance?

The blood of the martyrs

Calls us to join them in their stance!

 

Do you hear the women sing?

Lost in the valley of the night

It is the music of women

Who are climbing to the light!

 

For the wretched of the earth

There is a flame that never dies

Even the darkest night will end

And the sun will rise.

 

They will live again in freedom

In the garden of the Lord

We will walk behind the plowshare

We will put away the sword

The chain will be broken

And women will have their reward!

 

#IStandWithHer

This story was submitted in response to #IStandWithHer.

Comments 42

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maeann
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Hi Karen,

I saw your post on fb, and it is very upsetting. No words to say. I remember a book I read and it says: "seeking justice is a straightforward command from God."

While some feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and healing the sick are some in what way fulfilled but seeking justice, rescuing the oppressed and speaking for the voiceless..... little is done on their behalf.

I stand with you #IStandWithHer

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hello, dear sis Mae Ann,

Yes, I really appreciate you for reaching out. I suddenly lost all the energy at that time. I love that quote so much. Thank you for sharing it with me. Thank you for your love and support always! Have a great weekend!

ANJ ANA
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

My dear Karen,

#IStandWithyou
#IStandWithHer

Please find me in your pain, with my anger to the misogynous dismay. why this male audacity becomes so much insane and cruel that the girls/women are suffering until death time and again. We all women are the equal taxpayer, so we must get the same kind of security from the authorities, No more exploitation, no more violence, and no more discrimination.
I know nothing can compensate with the life of Barbie, yet I wish for Barbie's justice

in solidarity,
anjana

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hello, my beloved Anjana,

Thank you for your comforting words. True, it's such a cruel society. I learned it's her stepfather who raped her, and she got pregnant. I don't know what happened next because the rest are speculations. Thank you for your love and support. I appreciate you!

ANJ ANA
Dec 15, 2019
Dec 15, 2019

Dear Karen,
Most welcome my sister.
The bottom line is, she must get the justice.
love and regards,
anjana

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 15, 2019
Dec 15, 2019

I agree with you, sister. I truly hope for justice.

Tarke Edith
Dec 10, 2019
Dec 10, 2019

Hi Karen
I # stand with you .
I will fight with my phone ,l will with the little l have ,l will with the data l have to see in to it that women and the girl child is lebreted from all this ills .
You know it is often said that together we stand and divided we fall .women indescrimnate of the colour or rase .let us rise and fight for our right before it is too late..
Thank you Karen for standing with all the women and their problems . You will be reschly bless sister .
Don't cry we will together run the race till death do us part .

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Hello, my dear Edith,

Thank you for fighting with us! I appreciate you. There are a lot of cases in the Philippines that I hear from news reports about girls being victims of cybersex, pornography, prostitution, and trafficking. It's too much to bear. I couldn't even begin to write about those because it's overwhelming. Thank you for your encouragement, sis. I'm blessed to have you. Hugs.

Jill Langhus
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Hi Karen,

I'm taking a big sigh because I really don't know what to say. It's too sad for words when I hear stories like this. I wouldn't have been able to watch the video of poor Barbie's mother wailing. As I read your story I just got a huge sick feeling in my stomach. I'm here for you if you ever need me. Any time. I hope you know that?!

Big hugs, love. XX

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Thank you for your empathy, Jill. I hear GBV stories almost every week. Just this evening, it was a mother who made her 10-year-old to an online sexual victim to cybersex. Sad, sad, sad.

Thank you for being there, Jill. I appreciate you. Hugs, too!

Jill Langhus
Dec 14, 2019
Dec 14, 2019

You're welcome, dear:-) Yeah, I can't be on the front lines. It's too much for me. It takes enough energy to be able to handle some of the stories from our sisters, let alone a heavier, daily dose. I don't know how you do it.

I appreciate you, too, dear!

XX

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 15, 2019
Dec 15, 2019

I'm the same, Jill. It drains me so much to the point that I could identify triggers for depression. I realized that there are battles that are good for my mental health, and I need to stay on my lane where I am most effective.

Sadly, I see those cases in the news. I'm really disturbed and affected every time.

Thank you, JIll!

Jill Langhus
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Hmm:-( We need to figure out better, healthier systems I think. Yes!

Yeah. I get enough "reality" from WP and FB, and then I'm done for the day.

You're welcome:-) Thank you!

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Yes, you're right, Jill. I think I exposed myself to too much news. Can't help it, though. I need to stay updated. Thanks again!

Jill Langhus
Dec 18, 2019
Dec 18, 2019

Yeah, it's too much for me:-) You're welcome!

XX

Anita Shrestha
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

Thank you very much

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Thank you, too, dear sis.

Marie Abanga
Dec 11, 2019
Dec 11, 2019

I stand with you and us all Sis

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Thank you, my dear sis Marie. :)

baganda
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

merci ça c'est une bonne idées

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Merci d'avoir lu, chère sœur!

Angel Lasona
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Ohhhhh!!! Your stories are truly worth featuring dear sis Karen. I do felt the same pity for the loss of such innocent life,such of Barbie. Your #IStandWithHer voice truly reverberates around the corner of World Pulse sisterhood. We do appreciate it most.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Thank you for your love, appreciation, and support, dear Angel.

I hope there will be no more girls who become victims of all forms of violence.

Tola Makinde
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

Oh dear!

I saw your post. Now i understand after reading this story. #Istandwithher.
How i ponder over the wicked and the wickedness in their hearts. There is no peace for the wicked.
God bless you sister

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Thank you for your love, empathy, and support, dear sus Tola. I felt we need more voices in the Philippines to stand up against violence against women and girls.

I’m glad to have global sisters to remind me we are not alone. God bless you, too, dear!

Madhuri Deshkar
Dec 12, 2019
Dec 12, 2019

प्रिये आपने दिल कि गहराई से लिखा वो मैहभी फिल कीया अच्छा लगा।न्याय और समानता जरूहे। मुझे बोहोत अच्छा लगा साजा करने के लिये धन्यवाद प्रिये।

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

हैलो, प्रिय बहन, आपके प्यार और समर्थन के शब्दों के लिए धन्यवाद। मैं आपकी सराहना करता हूं!

Lisbeth
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Dearest Karen,
I sincerely stand with you and for her. If I dare to say something I will be cursing now please.
Take heart. #istandwithher.

Hugs

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 13, 2019
Dec 13, 2019

Thank you, dear Lizzy! I appreciate your love, empathy, and even anger. I wish there was an uproar load enough to end all forms of violence.

Hugs!

Lisbeth
Dec 14, 2019
Dec 14, 2019

It shall be so one day.
Time will tell. Take care
Hugs

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 15, 2019
Dec 15, 2019

Amen, sis. Amen. Thank you again. Hugs.

ARREY- ECHI
Dec 14, 2019
Dec 14, 2019

Dear Karen,

I join you to #StandWithHer.I read the post on FB and was so disheartened. No words here indeed. Sending you hugs and sunshine.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 15, 2019
Dec 15, 2019

Hello, sis Arrey,

Thank you for always being supportive of me. I appreciate you so much. Yes, sometime words won't help, but your presence makes a difference. Hugs, love.

Lily Habesha
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Dear Karen,
This story has frozen my body. I don't know what to say, I'm paralyzed right now...the girl's agony, her mother's cry...and the guys who did this evil job there and around the globe...what's going on their minds? I just don't get it. I don't know Karen, how these things to come to end.
The song gives a little bit of strength.
#IStandWithHer
#IStandWithYou

Love,
Lily

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Hello, my dear sister Lily,

How are you? I missed you! I'm so happy you're back and you're reading this story. Thank you for your empathy, dear. Thank you for standing with her. Love you, too.

Lily Habesha
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Dear Karen,
Thank you for your sisterhood. Our world is going crazy, but we still have to stand together for ourselves.

Thank you strong lady,

Lily

Ekitah
Dec 16, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

Hello Karen!
I feel so sad when I go through your story my dear sister. It reminds me of a similar story where a girl was raped and the genital removed for what I don't know. Her corpse was seen after a week. You are not alone in your pain, I feel it deep in me as I read through your story. Lets keep raising our voices for justice will come someday. Hug.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 17, 2019
Dec 17, 2019

Hello, dear sister Ekitah,

Ouch!!! That's horrible and inhumane. There are a lot of cases that are too much for our hearts to bear. Thank you for your solidarity. Hugs.

Spiritedsoul
Dec 21, 2019
Dec 21, 2019

Dear Karen,
The store brought tears to my eyes. The senseless tragedy. Heartbreak. I sent you many hugs, lots of love and empathy. I love this song, and would definitely be one of those seats and singing for those who are unable to run with me at the time.
Love and hugs,
Jess.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 23, 2019
Dec 23, 2019

Thank you for feeling the pain of this loss, my dear sister Jess. Thank you for your hugs and comfort!

Ohh, it’s great to know you like that song, too. Yes, dear, I’m glad you are a fighter!

Love and hugs, too!

fidelity
Dec 26, 2019
Dec 26, 2019

i stand with you dear sister.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 26, 2019
Dec 26, 2019

Thank you, dear sis Fidelis! Have a great day!