Children’s rights group: ‘Virgin Marie’ film mocks efforts to protect children from sexual abuse

August 24, 2018 - 5:15 PM
The short film "Virgin Marie" has been criticized by a number of children's rights groups and advocates, including international foundation Save the Children. (Screenshot from "Virgin Marie")

Children’s rights group Save the Children Philippines has spoken out about the short film “Virgin Marie” saying it is not in the best interests of children and it does not help protect children from sexual abuse.

“Showing a film that raises doubts about children’s experiences of sexual abuse, and about the intentions of people who are supposed to be helping them seek justice is not in the best interest of children, and does absolutely nothing to help protect children nor improve how our society treats them,” the group said in a statement.

It also called for Filipinos to use their talents and voices to support the much-needed advocacy instead of besmirching it.

“The short film Virgin Marie makes a mockery of the collective efforts of the Philippine government, civil society organizations, and every child victim-survivor of violence and their families to break the silence surrounding the issue of child sexual abuse,” it said.

The two-and-a-half minute production shows a young girl sobbing as she relates how her father sexually abused her.

It is revealed towards the end that the she was actually rehearsing a false testimony.

Save the Children echoed critics’ sentiments that the film was uncalled for in light of the cases of child rape and sexual abuse in the country.

The group also listed some startling statistics discovered by the National Baseline Study on Violence against Children in 2016.

It found that one out of five children suffered sexual abuse at home, school or in the community and that 17.1 percent of children aged 13 to 18 were sexually abused in any setting.

It also discovered that only 30.5 percent of children aware of child protection services actually utilized such services and that majority of children who were victims of violence did not report their experience, usually out of shame, fear and lack of trust.

A number of viewers criticized the film for casting more doubt on the claims of rape victims rather than raise awareness the severity of the country’s child abuse problem.