#DontTellMeHowToDress Exposes Clothes of Sexual Assault Victims
by Shara Mae Balce, February 14, 2019 2:11pm
Photo by Shara Balce/Inside Manila
It’s a basic human right to live free from fear and cruelty. That’s why the alarming rate of gender-based violence (GBV), one of the most directed against women, calls for active discussion from the public.
Gender-based Violence is directed to an individual based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. As of 2017 alone, 11,558 women are reported to be sexually harassed or abused in the country. Recently, stories of Filipinas went viral on social media after being stalked and harassed inside a mall by alleged members of Pick-Up Artist (PUA) Academy. PUA’s Facebook Page, with “best dating company” claims, is slammed for sexual discrimination and for normalizing rape—issues we should not tolerate or even promote.
Good to know the Philippine government is serious on taking the Safe Spaces Bill into law which is another step to penalize sex offenders, aiming for “zero tolerance” for any form of gender-based violence in public places. Sexual harassment has no bearing on the consequences it may cause. Perpetrators know no gender and situation: whether a woman is wearing modest or decent clothes, in broad daylight or at night. Women need to and have the right to feel safe in our surroundings.
The sad part as we try to call out this far long tolerated behavior is the victim-blaming issues that come with it. Victims of sexual harassment are being held against the sexual acts committed to them—even if they are just blending in the crowd with their normal clothes.
The objectification of a woman’s body is the core reason for sexual assaults. A woman’s body or anyone else’s is their prerogative. What they were or how they act is not an invitation for someone’s attention or even consent to sex. We need to educate ourselves and speak up for those who are silenced or ignored; it’s about time we take action and stand against the normalization of rape culture and the perpetuation of sexual harassment in any form.
Through art and expression, an exhibition #DontTellMeHowToDress is here in the Philippines to push back against all kinds of gender-based violence in the Philippines. It showcases sets of clothes victims were wearing when they were sexually harassed or assaulted.
The #DontTellMeHowToDress campaign is inspired by a Thai movement initiated by Thai supermodel Cindy Sirinya Bishop in April 2018. The exhibit was pushed through after a local authority issued a warning for women not to dress provocatively to avoid sexual assault during a water festival in Thailand.
The exhibit challenges the idea of women’s appearance and actions result in being sexually harassed. It’s part of #RespetoNaman, a campaign on gender-based violence inspired by the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements that aims to build nationwide awareness on sexual assault and harassment.
Launched by the United Nations Women, the exhibit is also part of the United Nations Secretary General’s UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign with the theme “Orange the World: #HearMeToo—the color orange symbolizes a brighter future and a world free from violence against women.
Focusing on bringing the issue into a public discussion, the exhibit aims to empower women to rise and fight against all kinds of violence. By supporting this kind of exhibition, together we can break the cycle of victim blaming as we stand up for assault victims—letting them know they are heard and supported.
Be part of the movement and dismiss the stereotypes. Visit the exhibit at the 2nd floor of Rockwell Business Center, Sheridan, Mandaluyong open from 10 am to 6 pm until February 25.