By Julmunir I. Jannaral
A Muslim leader in the province of Maguindanao in the Bangsamoro region has criticized the forced shaving of the heads of six young Muslim women in the province’ municipality of Ampatuan recently as a form of punishment for allegedly being lesbians. He said it constituted a violation of human rights.
Maguindanao 2nd District Board Member King Mangudadatu emphasized that national laws should be followed in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) although there is already a regional autonomy.
Board member King is the son of Maguindanao 2nd Dist. Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu.
He added that when the national law is being observed too in the BARMM there can be no discrimination that would take place because there is indeed an LGBT (lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights in the Philippines.
In fact, in Metro Manila for example in Mandaluyong City they have passed a City Ordinance No. 698 Series of 2018 against LGBT discrimination.
Thus, with the continuing absence of a national law that will protect the human rights of LGBT Filipinos, the city of Mandaluyong passed Ordinance 698, S-2018, which seeks to “uphold the rights of all Filipinos especially those discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).”
Forced shavings go viral on social media
The younger Mangudadatu was reacting to the recent forced shaving of the heads of young Muslim girls in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao for being lesbians whose videos on actual shaving went viral on social media.
Mangudadatu stressed that although BARMM is an autonomous region and has a devolved political autonomy, but nonetheless it is still part of the Philippines with national laws that prohibit discrimination. Hence, the said laws must be strictly followed or observed up to the letter.
He also pointed out that even if having relationship with the same sex is strictly not allowed in Islam, but all Muslims in the BARMM are governed by Philippine laws and human rights must be protected.
Likewise, Mangudadatu reiterated that although having sexual relations with the same sex is strictly prohibited in Islam, however all Muslims in the Bangsamoro region are governed by Philippine laws and their human rights must be protected at all times.
He added that the Philippines is not like Muslim countries where SOGIE as mentioned earlier is prohibited.
“Mayroon tayong mga batas, saklaw pa rin tayo ng batas ng Pilipinas,” (We have laws and we are still covered by Philippine laws), Mangudadatu said.
He cited Section 2, Article 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution that declares that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect of human rights. This fundamental law ensures that all persons in the Philippines must be able to live peacefully, with dignity, safe from abuse of any individual or institutions, including the State.
The Bill of Rights in the 1987 Constitution also guarantees equal protection for every Filipino, and prohibits discrimination of persons based on ethnicity, race, religion or belief, political inclination, social class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, civil status, medical condition, or any other status in the enjoyment of rights
The 2nd District Maguindanao Provincial Board Member further emphasized that even at Republic Act No. 11054 or the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) it states that “No person in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao shall be subjected to any form of discrimination on account of creed, religion, ethnic origin, parentage, or gender’.”
The Commission on Human Rights has recently started the investigation on this matter saying that no religion can be a justification for human rights violations.
Trauma and psychosocial support
Mangudadatu emphasized the trauma that these young girls who were shaved must be experiencing having been subjected to this public punishment, ridicule and complete with speakers, where no less than 50 people including small children were present as audience. He said that psychosocial services must be provided to them.
“Magkakaroon dapat sila ng counseling. Minor sila at hindi natin alam kung ano ang nasa isip nila ngayon. Not less than 50 persons ang nandoon at ginawan sila ng program, may speakers, may mga tumatawa habang sila ay umiiyak. Makikita mo ang bigat pero di nila kaya i-express kasi takot sila,” Mangudadatu said.
“Sobra napahiya ang mga bata dahil kinalbo sila. Dapat hindi na nila ito ginawa at binigyan nalang sila ng advice at pagkakataon para magbago. Dahil sa ginawa sa mga kabataan na ito, baka mas lalo pa silang magrebelde (sa mga magulang) at sundin ang mga mali kesa sa mga tama bilang Muslim,” Mangudadatu warned.
Counseling must be provided
According to the Board Member, the young girls families are still embarrassed about the incident because of the highly-conservative community they are in.
However, there were reports, in fact, that the parents were actually the ones who sought a solution to their children’s gender orientation and the public shaving was suggested by community leaders.
“May conservative places pa rin tayo lalong lalo na sa Maguindanao na 80% ang mga Muslims ” shared Mangudadatu.
He suggested that counseling must be provided not only to the girls and women, but also their families, and those who witnessed the event, especially young children.
“Baka mamaya ang gagawin nila sa susunod, pag may nakitang lesbian, hindi nila iaakyat sa kinauukulan, sa LGU, kundi sila na ang gagawa dahil iisipin nila na tama ang manakit ng kabataan kahit mali,” he explained.
Role of LGUs in upholding human rights in BARMM
Mangudadatu said that people in BARMM should engage the local governments including the barangay in any situation where human rights are violated.
“Ang unang lalapitan ng mga tao (na naviolate ang human rights) ay ang LGU. Nasa batas na dapat tinitingnan ng mga LGU ang karapatang pantao hindi lang ng LGBT kundi sa lahat ng mga mamamayan,” he added.
As a follower of Islam it is understood that the Islamic faith will never allow Muslims to have sexual relations with the same gender. Instead of being punished by having the hairs of these young girls shaved, they must have been indoctrinated with the rules of Islam and they should have been sent to Madrasah to take further studies on Islam. By engaging in Islamic teachings there is a big chance for them to undergo reformation like when they are having a tendong or scarf and to wear also the Abaya as they attend their classes at Madrasah.
Questions remain hanging
Finally, Diana Verzosa Moraleda, a Senior Programme Manager -Communications of the
International Alert Philippines engaged in the study of Bangsamoro told the Philippine Muslim Today, there are two very important questions remain unanswered in so far as the forced shaving of the heads of these young girls who are alleged lesbians is concerned:
First question, who will be held accountable in the incident?
Second question, what is the role of the Bangsamoro government in ensuring that laws are upheld, human rights are protected, and democratic space is safeguarded in the region? JIJ