14th November 2013.
GABRIELA Alliance of Filipino Women expresses serious alarm over reports of rape incidents in Tacloban City, Leyte, which is among the localities hardest hit by super-typhoon Yolanda (International name Haiyan) that ravaged the Philippines and left thousands of people dead and millions more displaced and devastated.
We express sympathy and cry for justice with our fellow Filipino women in Tacloban City who were reported to have been raped in the aftermath of the typhoon as other survivors broke into their homes and forcibly took away their food.
We deplore the absence of government authorities, especially those coming from the national government for fast rescue, relief, rebuilding and order restoration efforts on the ground since the typhoon struck. Military and police forces are being deployed only to guard against possible “mob attacks” driven by desperation for food and other immediate means to survive.
The destruction, hunger, misery and lack of immediate and appropriate government support to the people have pushed many to commit acts of desperation such as food ransacking, looting from the dead, and now rape. Gravely victimized by the typhoon due to an utter lack of necessary pre-disaster assistance from the government, the Filipino people are now rendered victims by the neglect and inaction of the Aquino government in mitigating the effects of the typhoon.
The experience in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the deadly earthquake in Haiti teach us that disaster situations heighten women and girls’ vulnerability to rape and sexual violence as desperation for survival push people to commit violence against what society deems the weakest. In the Philippines, GABRIELA is alarmed that utter government inaction and inefficiency in dealing with the crisis poses a dangerous backdrop to the eruption of more cases of rape and violence against women and children.
We call on the Aquino government to organize and fast-track its efforts to bring assistance to the victims of typhoon Yolanda. Our people have suffered enough; their further suffering from government neglect is now in your hands.
We likewise urge our fellow Filipinos to continue our vigilance and press for the demand for immediate rescue and relief assistance to the victims of typhoon Yolanda. The Filipino people’s solidarity in these most trying times will help the people of Visayas and Southern Luzon walk the path not only of survival and safety but of social justice.
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General Secretary - Joms Salvador: @jomsgab