Kat Alano to rape victims: Don't be afraid

(CNN Philippines) — "What did I drink? Because I feel weird right now.”

Sitting on a couch for an episode of the podcast “Good Times with Mo” last year, Kat Alano detailed the horrible experience she went through 10 years ago.

Alano said she only had the courage to speak up about it that year at the height of another rape controversy.

Talking on CNN Philippines’ Legal HD Tuesday (April 14), the former MTV VJ told host Karen Jimeno she decided to speak up because of the circumstances that were around her that time.

“At the beginning I only came out about rape culture after another girl came out and was an alleged victim of the same man who raped me,” she said.

“I felt the need to speak up because of my own guilt for not speaking up for so long.”

Felt like in a 'fog'

She was 19 years old that time.

Out drinking with friends, the former MTV VJ saw a guy she knew and met from work.

“I saw him out and of course you know showbiz, Mo, when you see somebody that you know you like say ‘hi.’ You hang out,” she told her friend DJ Mo Twister.

On the way home, the guy insisted to drive her home using her car. After declining a couple of times she finally obliged.

Inside the car she started to feel like she was in a “fog.” 

Thinking back, Alano said it did not cross her mind that she was drugged at that time.

“In my whole life before that and after that I never felt that way before nor have I ever felt it again.”

Drugging is one method perpetrators use to facilitate sexual violence.

Just this week, agents from the National Bureau of Investigation arrested alleged drug makers of liquid ecstasy.

The odorless and colorless gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB) or liquid ecstasy could be discreetly mixed in alcoholic beverages in a bar or party without anyone knowing the difference.

Just two drops could cause immediate coma and even amnesia, which is the reason why GHB is also referred to as a “date rape” drug.

Police said most sexual assault victims of this drug are high school and college students.

Tip of the iceberg

There were 5,493 rape cases in 2013, according to the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center.

But these are just the reported cases.

The Women’s Crisis Center said that there are more cases that remain unreported or stay within the confines of their homes.

“When I came out last year, I was exposed to our society’s mentality about rape,” Alano said.

This is rape culture, she said, where the victim is blamed.

Her coming out exposed her to public scrutiny.

“On social media, I was bashed like crazy. I was blacklisted in the industry, I was attacked online,” she said.

“And the comments were things like: I’m a whore, I deserved it because I wear these things, because I ever posed in a magazine, because I was out drinking, because I was this, because I was that.”

Alano noted how people focus on what clothes the victim wore or did before the rape.

“All of these things are not illegal. Rape is illegal. It is a heinous crime,” she said.

Twice raped

According to women’s rights organization GABRIELA, victims of rape are violated twice over.

First by the actual crime, and second by society’s judgment.

“I think the problem really is the mentality of Filipinos towards rape is pretty archaic… but nobody talks about it because you don’t get educated about the law in school, you don’t get educated about rape,” Alano said.

Another problem, according to her, is that sex education isn’t common in the country.

“We don’t talk about the boundaries of sex on what is a violation and what is something that is a willing participation on your partner's behalf,” she said.

“What we’re doing is we’re just perpetuating a mentality that isn’t healthy for us anymore.”

The law itself is old, Attorney Katrina Legarda, director of Child Protection Network Foundation, said.

The Anti-Rape Law (RA 8353) which was revised in 1997 is now already 18 years old.

Legarda noted that the Supreme Court (SC) has “fantastic” decisions on cases that reach it.

A problem lies in the fact that most cases stop in the lower courts.

Legarda added that it’s very difficult for adult rape victims to get justice because the courts handling adult rape have not been trained at gender sensitivity.

“It’s taken a long long time for the prosecutors of even the family courts to understand that they have to stop asking for medico legal certificates. It’s not required. It’s merely corroborative,” Legarda said, explaining that rape might not involve any kind of physical evidence.

Speaking up

Legarda said that she “always advise people who were raped, whether they’re adults or children, to always tell somebody immediately.”

This is so that victims can have a corroborating witness who was told res gestae or immediately after the event.

“Really try and tell somebody kahit sino, kahit your best friend. Write it out in a diary. Put it down in writing. Have something that is corroborative of what happened to you on that day because you will need to go back to it 10 years hence.”

She clarified that delay is not a problem as the SC recognizes that some women never complain because they could be terrified or ashamed.

Victims should also go to the child and women protection desk of any police station and not to an ordinary police officer, Legarda added.

Alano also urged rape victims to speak up.

“My advice would be not to be afraid anymore, not to feel ashamed. Because that’s what we’ve been made to feel,” she said.

“Now is the time to join voices and be heard as a collective because that’s the only way that we can prove to the whole world and not just in our nation that rape really exists, that we are the faces of rape and this is what happens to you. And this is what has happened to us.”