“All men are rapists and that’s all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes.” Marilyn French
By Alex P. Vidal
Now that 66-year-old Himamaylan City Councilor Harry C. Sian has been formally charged in the city prosecutor’s office for violation of Republic Act 7610 or Anti Child Abuse Act, life will never be the same again for Rosalie (not her real name) and her family.
Rosalie, 16, a housemaid, accused Sian, a rich and prominent haciendero in Negros Occidental, of raping her on several occasions for two years.
The alleged rapes happened sometimes inside the car, in the suspect’s house, and in motels. A sex slave?
Rosalie and her mother did not immediately report the matter to the police for fear of reprisal and eviction because they used to stay in the suspect’s hacienda, it was learned.
Even before Sian was charged, there were fears that Rosalie’s decision to come out in the open and pinpoint Sian as her alleged rapist would be an exercise in futility because she is fighting a Goliath.
Rosalie and her family must have evaluated and anticipated the possible consequences they would face once Sian’s name has been mentioned in the media.
Now that the die is cast, there should be no retreat and no surrender.
As expected, Sian would deny Rosalie’s allegations. As expected, Sian’s camp would mount a counter accusation to impeach the girl’s credibility.
The first volley came from Sian’s lawyer, Pietro Villarin, who claimed that the girl “only wanted money.”
Sian, the lawyer said, was the girl’s “third victim” whatever that means. Villarin did not elaborate.
We have heard this line before in other rape cases involving children who come from poor families.
The message is loud and clear.
Sian’s camp is crying extortion.
The best defense is offense, as the saying goes.
Sensational cases involving poor victims against rich and powerful personalities usually prosper when there are no settlements; when witnesses cooperate from start to finish and refuse to be intimidated and bribed; and when the cases are closely monitored by the media.
If the case goes into trial, Sian’s goose is cooked politically speaking.
Guilty or not, public opinion would be cruel against his favor.
In our culture, we sympathize with the poor, the powerless and defenseless children like Rosalie.
Each time cases like Rosalie’s surface in mass media, we remember the Tagalog telenovela Flordeluna; we remember the abused and exploited women and children working in the haciendas of tart-tongued mestiza and mestizo colonial landlords and landladies.
We remember inhuman treatment by the mighty and privileged against the destitute and downtrodden.
If she is telling the truth, Rosalie deserves all the support from all sectors of society, especially the women and human rights associations in Himamaylan City.
In numerous cases involving rapes, physical and mental abuse, and all forms of violence against women and children committed by moneyed and powerful characters, we seldom see a Rosalie coming out bravely to seek for justice.
In most cases, the victims would opt to keep quite and forget their nightmares rather than risk being pilloried and made to endure a long litigation they can’t afford to sustain financially.
In our society where justice can be bought and truth can be twisted by the glitters of money and gold, the sight of a poor Rosalie fighting against odds is already a whiff of fresh air for those who pursue justice against conventional wisdom that you can’t topple the powerful, well-connected and well-oiled litigant in a protracted legal battle.
Sian deserves to be given his day in court. He will always be presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
With his power and wealth, he is still considered to be in the advantage position.
The Bible tells us not to judge our fellowmen. He who has not sinned should cast the first stone.
When we judge others, we will be judged according to the barometer we used in judging others.
For Rosalie, win or lose, hell has just begun.