Take Five: “It’s time for the Philippines to say, ‘MeToo!’”
Author: Caitlyn Quinn
Why did you start the #RespetoNaman [#RespectMe] campaign?
SPARK! started the #RespetoNaman campaign as a local response to the #MeToo movement. We saw that gender-based issues, especially violence, greatly affect every woman in our society. Honestly, we only thought that we would be doing a simple one-day forum, yet as this project was further developed, it was brought to light for us that these things are happening all around the country, and from this alone, we knew we had to do more.
As we went through the planning process and development of the project, it became apparent that the issue of gender-based violence is much bigger than we initially realized. Sure, we have statistics that say one in three women will have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, but these statistics are limited because they are based on reported cases of abuse. There is a significant number of women who choose not report incidents where they were violated or harassed because of the stigma that surrounds victimhood. Not only that, but the trauma of their experience leaves long-term psychological and emotional damage that, if not attended to, may significantly affect the trajectory of their lives.
Thus, the one-day forum bloomed into a full-blown campaign, which has grown into a movement of its own since we launched it last November 2018.
How did you get involved with Cindy Bishops #DontTellMeHowToDress campaign?
Cindy Bishop’s campaign has made a huge impact in Thailand and all over the world. When we were thinking of ways to get the #RespetoNaman message across, we realized that powerful imagery and narratives need to be brought into the public sphere. We contacted her and, after a series of emails and video calls, she came to the Philippines to launch the exhibit and the campaign with us.
What have been the highlights of touring the exhibition? Have you been surprised by the response?
The most meaningful part is getting to show the exhibit to different audiences all over the Philippines. We often take time to observe the people that visit the exhibit. It is always interesting to see their reactions once they realize why the clothes are there and what stories they tell.
A story was shared to me that a young boy, upon viewing the exhibit with his mom, immediately asked her, “Will you be okay? Will “ate” (older sister) be okay?” I think that was one of the most powerful reactions we’ve ever gotten. It gives us hope that the youth can change the status quo, that maybe we can end violence in the future.
How has working on this campaign shaped your thinking surrounding ending violence against women?
Working on this campaign has not been easy. It can be emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. But through it all, looking at the clothes always brings me back to why we do it. The narratives never lose their impact in the many times I’ve seen it, and hopefully it does the same to everyone who gets to see it. The work we’ve been doing has inspired me to continuously fight for ending gender-based violence. Changing the world’s view on sexual abuse might start with a little boy asking questions.
Where is the exhibition heading next and what are your hopes for its future?
SPARK! wants women to know that they are not alone. Together, we will fight for our rights and respect. Now, more than ever, is the time to shift the narrative, end victim-blaming, and call for respect for women, not because of what they wear or how they act, but by virtue of their being human. It’s time for the Philippines to say, “MeToo!” Today, we must tend to the fire of the movement we started. As a nation, we’re saying, “RespetoNaman”.
The #RespetoNaman movement and the #DontTellMeHowToDress exhibition were part of the UNiTE campaign in the Philippines. Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women is a social mobilization platform that showcases the important work of individuals and organizations that advocate to end violence against women.