The Rape of the Innocent

Filed Under (Stories) by admin on 11-01-2010

As I arrived by pumpboat (outrigger boat) from the town of Naval to buy groceries, I was met by the three girls: Yona, Tinay and Sharon. They usually help me carry the bags of groceries in exchange for a treat of ice cream or lunch. I live in the island of Maripipi, in the province of Biliran. Residents of Maripipi shop for groceries and commercial needs in the town of Naval, the commercial center of Biliran.

The three girls come and go. I made a nipa hut (thatched house and roof) in the back of my house for them to sleep overnight. They are street children who used to come to help me water the plants in exchange for leftover food.  Yona is 12 years old. She is in the first grade.  She is often absent from classes as she helps her mother do the laundry for a living.  Sharon is 8 years old, an orphan, living with her grandmother, who depends on the child for errand.  Tinay is nine years old, the eldest of five children with different unknown fathers.

People have questioned my judgment for allowing these children to come live and eat with me.  They say that the girls are bad kids. They steal, they lie and nobody believes them no matter how true their story is. I tried to rationalize that they are doing this to survive. They are no different from animals in the jungle, the toughest survive, that is the law and that is what these street children do to live.  They chase for leftovers but in my house they do not have to do that.  They ate with me in the table and I teach them table manners.

They are just like any normal children their age, they giggle they laugh and they whisper to one another and sometimes they whisper to me. As far as I know they are just like any children whose needs for growing has to be met.  Because they are poor they do not get them at home. My regulation in the house is no lying and no stealing.  If you violate these rules you are not welcome in my home anymore.

I sensed something different with the girls on that particular day when I arrived from Naval. The girls who were normally boisterous around me were surprisingly quiet.  I brought ice cream, barbecue chicken, bread, pastries and other ready to eat food from Naval.

I asked the girls to join me at the table to enjoy the food. After a quiet moment, Tinay started talking about the rape that happened the day before and

that all the people in school knew about it. I got jolted by the news so I immediately asked who the victim was and if the rapist was known. The answer hit me like I was hit by a thunderbolt. Tinay said, “Sharon was raped by Roy Luna”. I could not believe what I heard.  I could not believe that a person that I know would become a victim of a heinous crime. Sharon bolted and walked away from the table feeling so ashamed and sad.

Roy, who is married, is their neighbor. His wife and family left him. He was abusive to his wife, always driven to rage and violence by baseless jealousy.

In the afternoon after the revelation of the very sad news, I spotted Sharon lurking behind the fence in my house. I called her to come to the yard but she refused. Her eyes looked so sad and looked like it was imploring for my understanding and help. A little later, I saw her again in the garden watering the plants. “Sharon, what is wrong with you.  I talked to you but you don’t answer me. Is it true that you were raped by Roy?” I bombarded her with questions. “Yes”, she said. And then she related to me her story.

It was already dusk, about 6:00 PM, the sun had set in. The grandmother of Sharon asked her to fetch water.  Yona who was going to sleep in Sharon’s house that night, volunteered to help in fetching water. To fetch water, they have to pass by Roy’s house. Roy was outside smoking cigarette. He whistled to Sharon who was many steps ahead of Yona and asked her to meet him at his toilet that night. Roy said he was going to give her twenty (20) pesos. Twenty pesos is a lot of money in the province especially to girls like Sharon. After they fetched the water, they had their dinner and went to sleep.  Sharon remembered about the  P20.00 that Roy promised to give her if she would met him at his toilet so she got up and went to Roy’s toilet which was located outside Roy’s house.  Yona also got up to go to their toilet which was inside their grandmas’ house. Yona said that as she was getting up from the toilet, she heard some strange sound outside so she looked outside in the direction of the noise and saw Roy kneeling and Sharon standing both inside Roy’s toilet. The grandmother was awake so she asked Yona where Sharon was. Yona innocently answered that Sharon was with Roy inside Roys’ toilet. The grandmother became furious and angry. When Sharon came in, the grandmother beat her with her cane in full force without pity, hitting Sharon in the feet, legs and buttocks. Not contented she pinched Sharon as hard as she could in the thigh while screaming invectives and saying that Sharon was a prostitute.

Everyone in the neighborhood heard the invectives and all of them agreed with the grandmother that Sharon was a very bad girl. Sharon was all bruised in her feet, legs, thighs and hip. Feeling so ashamed and being ostracized by her neighbor, Sharon ran to me for understanding and support but she never told me about the rape.

Early dawn the following day after aerobics I told one of the members of our organization who is an official of the child and community welfare department of the municipal government. And because of the severity of the story, she decided to interview Yona, the main witness of the incident. After the interview, she concluded that the witness was credible and the story was true. Yona was very consistent in her answers to the questions. She formally reported the crime to the municipal government social worker and the complaint became official.

In a small community like ours, stories like that would spread like wildfire and the people of the community take sides. Unfortunately for Sharon, most people in the community took the side of Roy. They said that it is inconceivable for a nice man like Roy to rape a very young girl especially a neighbor. The neighbors rallied behind Roy for a wrong reason: they do not want Roy to be put in prison because he was supporting his mother, aunt and uncle. They were afraid that once Roy is in jail, his mother, aunt and uncle would run to them for support. Even Sharon’s grandmother was influenced by the neighbors to rally for Roy and against her own granddaughter.

The neighbors brought Sharon to the Rural Health Unit and asked the midwife to examine her. The midwife’s finding and conclusion was that their was no sign of a tear therefore there was no rape, was a big disappointment for justice. The suspect also convinced the two minors to help him cover up the crime. And worse yet, the neighbors concocted a story that I put the words into Yonas’ and Sharons’ mouth what to say if investigated.

The DSWD came to investigate and met with the community officials.  She told the officials that the action they took was wrong.  I was called to attend the meeting where I was given temporary custody of Sharon. The pressure from outside was too much for the children. Relatives, neighbors and the whole the community called them names and the two girls were crying most of the time, scared with what would happen to them. One day, Yona came to my house and told me that she was afraid to live in her own home because her own family accused her of fabricating the story and threatened her that she would go to jail for lying. So I asked her if she was making up the story and she answered that her story was absolutely true because she saw them with her own eyes, what really happened.  She complained that she is in trouble because she told the truth. She said that even Stella, her father’s aunt, a community official, said she would see to it that Yona will go to jail because of lying. Yona said I am not lying and the only person who believed me is you and I am afraid to go outside anymore, the people might throw stone at me.

I decided to give shelter to the three girls in my house and instantly, I became the enemy of the community. I had to endure the bad talk thrown against me because I knew the girls who needed sympathy and understanding were the victims of social antipathy and scorn.

One day when the doctor was in town, the grandmother, pressured by the neighbors brought Sharon to the doctor for examination and evaluation. The doctor examined Sharon and found no tear in her private places and said that Sharon was alright but when the doctor found out that he was examining Sharon for a possible rape he told the grandmother and the neighbors that Sharon being a possible rape victim should be under a Department of Social Welfare care and protection and it should be the government social worker who should bring Sharon for examination for possible rape. Unfortunately the government social worker who meet with community officials never came back after the seminar.  We waited in vain and justice died a natural death because the victim is a slum girl. Sharon insisted Roy used his tongue on her private part when he was kneeling in the bathroom .

I still feel guilty that I did not do enough. The girls came to me because they needed my help and there was nobody that they could turn to and I failed them.

I was accused by the community as the instigator and as the brain behind Sharon’s accusation to Roy but eventually the community stopped their vocal accusation against me when I threatened them with libel.

If Sharon is your daughter, what would you do? You be the judge.

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