Rape of the innocents

The surrender of the prime suspect in the Angela Artita case reassured many that it is still possible to obtain a quick resolution for crimes in our society. Many saw it as a vital sign of the health of our justice system, possible proof that our current methods are still effective and relevant.

Yet in the grander scheme of things, the Artita incident is but one of the disturbingly large number of rape cases involving children in our country.

A PNP report released this week notes that just last year, there were 4,234 children who were raped. This is a 26 percent increase from the previous year’s figure, which was nonetheless high at 3,355.

Even more shocking is that many of these child rape victims were below the age of seven, a fact that the PNP says was not true in the past.

It must be pointed out that these already horrific numbers are just the cases that were recorded by the police. As studies have repeatedly exposed, a whopping 70 to 90 percent of rape cases go unreported. In other words, the 4,234 children who were rape victims may just be the so-called tip of the iceberg of an even more alarming number of actual rape cases.

With such appalling figures, it is worth asking whether it is correct to assume that our criminal justice system truly does work.

The answer, as the abovementioned figures so clearly show, is no.

The slow progress of most cases, the congested queues of pending cases in courts, the lack of lawyers, the frustratingly low number of convictions—all these are anathema to the notion of justice, which needs to be speedy to be true.

But while we display shock at learning the number of child rape cases, we are apathetic to hearing about the flaws of our justice system. Its failure at deterring crimes, it seems, we have already accepted as fact. So unsurprising is its inefficiency that we have stopped considering it outrageous to hear that yet another rape case has dragged on for decades.

Our complacence, however, will do nothing to change this system. Rather, it will even allow us to participate as an accomplice to the injustice. This injustice is suffered not only by the victims, but also the rest of society, which remains under constant threat from malevolent elements.

In this light, our very silence becomes violence. It turns into an affirmation of impunity, a “yes” to a society criminals roam free, while victims hide themselves in shame.

The problem, however is this: unless we speak up and exact change, we cannot truly demand for anything better.


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