On August 5th, Tiny Diapana posted a note on her Facebook page after attending the 26th Iligan National Writer’s Workshop (INWW). She was raped:
To get to the heart of the matter: I was sexually taken advantage of by a panelist during a national writers workshop that I had attended this year.
What followed after the rape was a series of investigations done by Diapana about what happened during the incident. Then, she writes:
I called and wrote to the workshop director about the incident. I also had my lawyer send a letter along with the affidavits of my witnesses to the workshop to ask for justice. I wanted the workshop to acknowledge what had happened and to condemn what this panelist had done to me. I wanted the organization to blacklist this panelist so that he could no longer do the same thing to others in future iterations of the workshop.
The workshop director’s response was worrying. She completely dismissed Diapana’s claims and wrote:
…it was done behind closed doors and nobody heard anyone screaming, being dragged down the stairs, or trashing about.
So. Let’s make some noise. Let’s drag this fight outside, where everybody can hear it screaming. Let’s drag it down the stairs, let’s trash it about.
This issue is beyond this, beyond even Diapana. This is beyond the female gender. This fight is about us as human beings and how we answer the question: “Are we equal?” Because the answer should always be “yes.”
And I’m nothing but a washed-out student. I have nothing but my words. These words are all I have but I choose to use them. Even if it scares me. Even if it brings back memories. Even if I’d rather stay silent because that’s what one does when one feels oppressed.
Not About Me
When I was a little girl, I witnessed my maid being molested by a construction worker in my grandmother’s house. I remember telling my parents about it, telling everyone about it. I remember my mother brushing me off. I remember everyone brushing it off as a three-year-old’s overly active imagination. To this day I recall my maid saying “No,” over and over again but being overpowered. I remember pounding on the construction worker’s back to let go of her but getting locked out of my own room.
Years later, I would get touched without my consent. But I don’t want to talk about that. It took me more than a decade to talk about it. I’ve spoken about it thrice in living memory. No one believes me except for a scant few, anyway.
And this is how I imagine Diapana feels about her own experience: doubted, overwhelmed, somehow less as a person because of it.
Her cry for justice is echoed billions of times over all over the world.
And so, I thought: What’s one more voice in the midst of all that? The world doesn’t need my two cents. It has enough opinions.
But I remember a quote by Edmund Burke about this:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
And that’s what I did, I just watched as the world went up in flames around me.
If you are who I used to be, listen to the words of Tiny Diapana’s friend, Lauren Faustino, in a Facebook post about the incident:
You are needed here. Now. You are called to put your weight on the scale of justice and put it back to balance. …I say this because I need you to believe me, to believe us. I need you to understand that your analysis paralysis-waiting-for-the-story-to-unfold, “bystander-ing” is hurting so many of us.
So don’t hurt the voice of the oppressed by staying silent. Speak out. Make some noise. This isn’t about you or me, now. It’s about the voice of every single human being who has been taken advantage of. Do not quiet their cries for justice by quenching your own.
Make some noise.