There are some very uncomfortable truths about ourselves that we humans don’t want to hear, to think about or to acknowledge or confront. Most of us have been conditioned to studiously ignore or deny the harsh reality before us or to believe without reflection the most outlandish and ludicrous lies.
Why can social evil, government corruption and oppression, state violence go unchecked, hardly questioned and a sense of national approval ignores the violations of human rights and justice? Besides, the silence and cover-up of widespread, unchecked human trafficking and child sexual abuse?
We can speculate that manipulative forces in society welcome and promote such attitudes of collective silence, docility, moral decay, hypocrisy and social ignorance. They promote among the people the belief that it is okay to be quite subservient and uninvolved. To be an advocate for human rights and social justice is, they say, unacceptable and anti-government, even subversive.
Many people are lulled by a materialistic celebrity show-biz oriented society into a selfish egotistic life, having little concern for others and do not get involved in issues of social justice. Fear is also a factor in dulling the mind and blocking rebellious thoughts of those victimized, marginalized and oppressed. Fear of retaliation and punishment curbs the desire to protest injustice and oppression.
Death squads can raid a shanty town and murder several suspects and the neighbours, the community and the Church let it pass without outcry, protest and a sense of horror. It is the way things are, they say. Christianity is a way of life where people serve and help each other no matter their status in life. It puts into practice what Jesus of Nazareth taught- that goodness and truth and love will overcome evil and oppression and injustice, that we ought to love each other and never kill and exploit. That the children are the most important in society. That everyone has spiritual and inalienable rights, dignity, respect and that justice and equality imbue the ideal community. All are called to serve and share and all be free to be fully human free from fear, want and hunger.
Thousands of dedicated and committed true Christians risk their lives pursuing and upholding these values and have been murdered, incarcerated, bullied and beaten. These true Christians are working for social justice and living out the idealistic values of solidarity with the poor and the oppressed. They protect and get justice for the abused and the exploited children. They fight evil and save the trafficked victims without seeking reward, and like Jesus of Nazareth, are willing to die for their values.
But large segments of the institutional Catholic Church have arguably lost many of these values and fail to practice them. Parts of the institutional Church are ultra conservative and silent to child abuse and human rights violations. They ignore the shredding of human dignity and the violation of life values as thousands are oppressed, killed and disappeared. Child sexual abuse is denied, concealed, covered up and lied about.
The Philippines has a population of 110 million. Forty million are children. About 80 percent or 32 million children suffer from violence. Seven million of these children between the ages of 10 to 18 are sexually abused every year. Twenty percent or 1.4 million are under 6 years old. While these statistics are shocking, many of the institutional Church leaders are sinfully silent.
The prophetic voice to champion the abused and exploited is seldom heard. This silence has to be constantly challenged and reform must come to awaken and activate the clergy and the lay people The true Christians work for a better society based on the belief in goodness, truth and justice and protect the children and fight for human rights
Every day close to 538 babies are born to teenagers mostly 15-16 years of age, many are victims of rape. That is 196,370 babies born a year. Most are abandoned by their fathers and live-partners of the mothers. Seven million of these children between the ages of 10 to 18 are sexually abused every year and Church people have not challenged child sexual abuse in the Church itself, let alone in society.
There is the complacent attitude that permeates society, too. It inculcates a sense of apathy and indifference to the news of natural disasters or human rights violations and does little to challenge and change the situation of extensive child sexual abuse, human trafficking and sex slavery and on-line child abuse. The silence and inaction is approval of the sex industry. The government grants them permits to operate and allows the wrongdoing to propagate, spread and become accepted and imbedded in the unconscious way of life of millions.
Child sexual abuse is still considered by many as an unfortunate, unchangeable human weakness to be tolerated and treated lightly and some say abuse should not be reported or complained about. “Children may be seen but never heard”, “Silence is golden,” we were taught.
How wrong this is. Child abuse is a heinous dastardly crime. Not everyone accepts that truth, until they or their children are sexually assaulted. Even then, there are mothers who look the other way when their husband or partner sexually abuse their daughters. Silence in families is also abuse.
The case of the 13-year-old, Angel (not her real name) a child that the Preda Foundation social workers rescued from the rapist Marve Rada. He was the live-in partner of the child’s mother. She would not believe Angel’s story of constant sexual abuse. Instead, the mother protected the rapist. It happened many times. The child recovered with the help of the Preda Emotional Expression Therapy and lived happily and safe in the Preda Children’s Home. (View life in the home at https://youtu.be/G0fFNmHSYic)
Angel was empowered and testified in court, firmly, consistently, in a trustworthy manner, was coherent, spontaneous, logical and convincingly, so said Judge Gemma Theresa B. Hilario-Lagronio, and then convicted and sentenced Marve Rada to life in prison without parole. On two other charges, he was sentenced to 17 years for two other acts of abuse. Judge Lagronio was meticulous in considering the evidence and is a true champion of justice for children.