Police tell girls: Don’t wear short clothes to prevent sex crimes

Rambo Talabong

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Police tell girls: Don’t wear short clothes to prevent sex crimes
'Kayo naman mga ghErlsz, wag kayo magsuot ng pagkaikli-ikling damit at pag naman nabastos ay magsusumbong din sa amin,' says a now-deleted Facebook post of a police station in Quezon Province

In its crusade to “serve and protect” Filipinos against sexual crimes, a station of the Philippine National Police (PNP) put the burden of protection on women themselves.

On Thursday, June 11, the official Facebook page of the Lucban Municipal Police Station in Quezon Province made a virally vilified post for telling women to avoid wearing short clothes to avoid being targeted for sex crimes.

The first half addressed men, saying, “Mahalin natin ang mga kababaihan at huwag nyo abusuhin ang kanilang kabaitan.” (Let’s love women and not abuse their kindness.)

The latter part was addressed to women: “Kayo naman mga ghErlsz (sic), wag kayo magsuot ng pagkaikli-ikling damit at pag naman nabastos ay magsusumbong din sa amin. Isipin ‘nyo rin!

(You girls, on the other hand, should not wear excessively short clothes that when you’re harassed you come to us for help. Think about it too!)

Then, the hashtags trailed to trumpet the names of their campaigns and their bosses: #TeamPNP, #WeServeAndProtect, #PNPKakampiMo, #CPNPArchieGamboa, #TeamCALABARZON, #PNP4A, #TatakManongEntengDanao, #PulisLucbanTunaynaLingkodBayan.

Rappler screenshot

The post ran counter to all that women’s rights activists and the police’s own experts on sexual harassment have been saying: that women are vulnerable and must not be blamed for the wrongdoing of men.

The PNP’s own community relations manual – a must-read for all cops, moreso for those manning their Facebook pages – affirm this.

“Gender in the PNP organization is human rights based and it is the responsibility of a police officer to protect and promote such rights,” the manual’s Chapter VIII begins.

These basic lessons on sexual violence, ideally, are repeated to cops so they do not forget. This continues to be a problem for the predominantly male PNP, where its own have been accused during the coronavirus pandemic, of raping prostitutes by abusing their newly acquired powers under lockdown.

By Friday afternoon, after simmering in criticism overnight, the post was deleted. It was shared at least 4,000 times and received 8,500 reactions – mostly angry.

Lucban police chief Major Rizaldi Merene apologized in a phone interview with Rappler, saying, “Nagkamali po kami. Humihingi po kami ng pasensya.” (We were wrong. We are asking for the public’s patience.)

It is the cops, not women, who need to do some thinking, after all. – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.