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Book on abuse a must read, says group

Maryknoll nun gives a voice to 'silent' victims

Book on abuse a must read, says group
Chi Laigo Vallido shows book on sex abuse by Sister Nila Bermisa (photo by Artemio Dumlao) reporter and staff, Manila

October 5, 2011

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A non-governmental organization is promoting a new book written by a Maryknoll nun to draw attention to sexual abuses by Catholic priests and other religious in the country. Chi Laigo Vallido of the Forum For Family Planning and Development Inc today said the book, That She May Dance Again: Rising From Pain of Violence Against Women in the Philippine Catholic Church, is not only geared at getting justice for the victims of abuses but “hoping there can be changes" in the Roman Catholic Church as a whole. The book was written by Sr Nila Bermisa, a Maryknoll sister, based on research conducted between 2000 and 2004. Published two months ago by the Women and Gender Commission (WGC) of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), the book was recently launched in Baguio City, northern Philippines. “Survivors of sexual abuse and violence suffer in silence. It takes time to find their voices,” Vallido said. She cited a study by the National Demographic and Health Survey that found one in every five women, 15-49 years old, have experienced physical violence while one in 10 have experienced sexual violence. The results of the research and the book, Vallido said, have reached the appropriate committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. “But according to the research team, they are not aware of any changes or actions made based on the report up to this day,” she said. “We risk offending a powerful institution and the sensitivities of many, but we feel that it is our responsibility,” the NGO worker said. “It also sends a powerful message that we as a people and as Christians will never condone such atrocities, especially against our women and young girls,” she added. Veteran journalist Ceres Doyo said the book should be required reading for the clergy. “The book should be read especially by both the men and women who serve in the Church so that their eyes may be opened to painful realities and they will understand the root, the history, the dynamics of the experiences that many women have suffered in secret.” Vallido said researchers of the book, which included Catholic nuns and lay ministers, covered 19 archdioceses, dioceses and prelatures. Of these cases, 40 percent were classified as rape and more than 50 percent as sexual harassment. The majority of abuses found by the research were committed against women (73.3 percent) while the rest were against men. Vallido said her group is ready to file cases against the sexual abusers “if the victims are willing.”
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