Monday, 15 June 2009

Tragedy in Nataban, Philippines

News has just been received of the attempted rape and brutal murder of a young mother, Arlyn Barotag, in the isolated mountain village of Nataban.  Her family and the UU community there are in shock but are planning practical steps to deal with this tragedy with the help of the UU Church of the Philippines leader, Nihal Atanayake.

Beyond the immediate physical and psychological needs of the family (including two very young children), serious attention is being given to what enabled a young women to be killed brutally by a young man in a situation where it is not even certain that the known culprit will be brought to justice.  

The poverty of the region means that some fathers have to work on another island, only coming home a couple times each year -- and women are left to raise their children without "normal" family support.  The lack of resources in the area means that electricity for recharging mobile phones is some distance away.  The mountainous nature of the terrain means that there is limited effectiveness for these modern communications devices in any case.  The isolation means that provision of social services from the central urban community is way down the priority list.

This community is aware that justice is much more than catching and punishing a murderer; it is also tackling the conditions that provided the background to it and strengthening the ability of the community to protect its people.  And is it not really the case that we all have to admit in our hearts that the scourge of brutality against women is too far down our priority lists, in high-economic areas and in low-economic areas?

Further information will be on ICUU's website as it becomes available.  The community will need some outside resources to work effectively to bring a measure of justice to their lives.

With a heavy heart,

John Clifford

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