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Arts body, MSU told to look into alleged rape

THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) called on the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) and the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) to look into the alleged rape of a young writing fellow during the 26th Iligan National Writers’ Workshop in Iligan City early this year.

The call, through a statement posted online on Friday, was made by lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia, the spokesperson of the CHR.

De Guia issued the statement after a young writer who participated in the workshop accused the keynote speaker and panelist of rape.

The young writer published a note on her Facebook page Monday last week that gave a detailed account of the alleged sexual violation that happened towards the end of the national writers’ workshop in May 2019.

According to her, she did not give consent to sexual intimacy and felt violated.

The alleged victim however has not filed a rape case against anyone at press time.

The CHR official said she has taken note that the writers’ workshop was sponsored by the NCCA and managed by the MSU-IIT, both government institutions.

Reads part of de Guia’s statement: “(It) is incumbent upon these government institutions to exercise responsibility in ensuring that the truth about the incident is immediately uncovered so that accountability may be exacted if merited.”

De Guia pointed out that it is the duty of government institutions and their representatives to ensure that workshops or any activity they conduct or sponsor are safe spaces especially for women and other vulnerable individuals.

“Rape and other forms of sexual assault and harassment are grave crimes with long term consequences to the victim. Any complaint on sexual violence and violations must be seriously and thoroughly investigated at once,” de Guia said.

The alleged victim has alleged that she had sent a complaint to the workshop director about the incident. The director, according to her Facebook note, conducted an investigation, the results of which the complainant found wanting. She thus turned to the online community as her last recourse as she sought for redress.

On Wednesday, an “open letter” to the NCCA urged the government agency “to conduct a thorough and independent inquiry” given that the Iligan workshop was conducted using public funds through its annual grants program. At press time, the online statement has been signed by over 800 people. (Herbie Gomez)

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