On the homefront in the Philippines, in the wake of the baring of a young woman's story of assault during a writers workshop, writers themselves wrote on the social media platform. Alma Anonas-Carpio, poet, editor and journalist, said:
Okay, let me address the elephant in the room. Do I believe the woman accusing a workshop panelist of rape? Yes. Do I believe the panelist did not intend to do harm? Yes.
I am a friend and colleague in journalism of the workshop panelist who stands accused of rape, and who stands to lose reputation and potential livelihood as the writing community argues over the matter and takes sides.
Let me say this: Given those two positive answers, I will take the side of the woman accusing the panelist of rape. I will stand against my friend and colleague in this, because I believe he is not in the right--and I am saying this after I've spent days praying and thinking very deeply on the matter, after reviewing all available information on it, including conversations with the panelist in question.
I do not know his accuser personally, but I did volunteer at the Women's and Children's Desk and I did see so many women who went through the same thing, and I know it is not easy to come out and make the accusation of rape. I have seen many women go through the same struggle to be believed when they say they were assaulted. I have watched them cry as the people they trusted with their lives told them to drop the accusations so they can all go on with their lives. I have listened to these women as they told counselors that there is, in fact, no going on with their lives as if nothing happened because the assaults on them did, in fact, happen.
I have covered court cases where rapists were put on trial. In these trials, the accusers were also put on trial. They, too, had to relive the assaults on their persons in painful detail told to the courts. I have watched defense attorneys shred the reputations and statements of the plaintiffs on the stand in defense of the honor of their clients. I have seen how the survivors of rape have been brutally re-victimized. It is an ugly process, trying a rape case. Our rape laws are still, even after amendment, woefully inadequate. Our means of obtaining evidence of rape is even worse: Eyewitness testimony is the main fare in such a case, and that is the least reliable evidence a case investigator can gather. Human memory is as reliable as the human who owns the memory--and humans are fallible creatures prone to error and forgetting.
It is in this kind of environment filled with harsh judgment that a woman who sues a rapist makes her case. So, yes, I will take the side of the accuser in this matter.
First and last of all, the workshop panelist who has been accused of rape was in a position of authority, his power, during that situation where he and the woman shared drunken sexual intimacies.
This is not about whether someone intended harm or not. We all see accidents daily, where no harm was intended, yet harm was dealt. Intent does not signify anything. The end-result does. The end-result in this situation is that a woman was harmed enough for her to cry rape. Believe me when I tell you rape is not a charge lightly made, because the woman making the accusation is almost always savaged by the accusation as much as the person she accuses is wrecked by it.
This is not about who was drunk. They both were. This is not about consent. They were both drunk, as they both said in their statements, and drunk people do not always act or speak in their best interests.
This is about who was in a position of authority, because that authority comes with the responsibility of acting in consonance with that authority. The woman was a workshop fellow, not a panelist or keynote speaker. She did not have either the power or responsibility to ensure the safety of the workshop outside of her responsibility for her personal well-being and safety. He, on the other hand, accepted that responsibility when he signed on as a panelist and keynote speaker.
That responsibility does not depend on whether one is inebriated or not. It exists despite whatever excuses anyone will give. That responsibility is a heavy one, but it is what he agreed to dispatch.
He did not dispatch that responsibility in the case of the woman accusing him of rape. He had the power and the responsibility. He did not use them well. Ensuring another person's safety from harm includes stopping them from bringing harm upon themselves. It includes making sure you are capable of being that person's safety provider. That he failed in that responsibility and was the person who caused the harm he should have protected her from is unconscionable.
May my daughters be safe from such people. May all of us be safe from such people. We need to make rape and rape-culture stop. We need to stop making excuses for the act of rape. We need to look at what does make rape what it is, not the symptoms that indicate someone can commit rape. That is the only way I see to make rape stop.