The Cultural Context of Fighting Hazing

The Anti-Hazing Law does not eliminate the occurrence of hazing. Underground works continue even as the state bans hazing in all forms.

Another innocent life has been taken due to hazing. On September 18 2019, PMA Cadet Darwin Dormitorio died of hazing as bruises were found on his stomach based on the investigation conducted by the Philippine National Police.

This incident happened despite the recent passage of the Anti-Hazing Act of 2018, which in effect imposes stiffer penalties for perpetrators of hazing. Based on 2017 reports and records of the Supreme Court, Senate and House of Representatives, there were more than 30 deaths caused by hazing or initiation rites of fraternities and training institutions since 1954.

According to some insiders, hazing continues to be a practice among many fraternities, particularly in colleges and universities. Some members of fraternities justify the practice of hazing, claiming that it is a critical part of initiation for closely-knit groups. Some of the claimed benefits of hazing include:

• It teaches new members to respect hierarchy and that you have to work through your way going up the ranks, instead of being a mere beneficiary of privileges without having to work hard for it
• It sets a threshold for membership; hence making members more invested and loyal to the group
• It creates tighter bonds as people who undergo hazing will most often work together well and become close friends

However, the dangers and impacts of hazing far outweigh their perceived benefits. A study on hazing incidents worldwide shows that 71% of those who were hazed suffer from negative consequences, which include:

• Emotional/mental instability
• Post-traumatic stress syndrome
• Loss of sense of control and empowerment
• Relationship with friends/loved ones suffer
• Illness or hospitalization

In some instances, hazing does not just involve physical harm. Those who undergo hazing and initiation rates are also often forced to go nude or perform sexual acts against one's freewill. This is a clear violation of one’s human dignity.

The Anti-Hazing Law does not eliminate the occurrence of hazing. Underground works continue even as the state bans hazing in all forms. Furthermore, fraternity leaders are occupying seats of power in government and business; hence culture and tradition would be difficult to change under these circumstances.

It is clear that Colleges and universities should set the tone on how to prevent hazing in and out of their campuses. Students must also be made aware that fraternities that promote hazing in their initiation process will never be good for them. It takes a concerted effort from all sectors to minimize if not eliminate the occurrence of hazing.

At the end of the day, brotherhood and sisterhood can be solidified even with the absence of extreme physical hurt such as hazing. Hazing, in fact, violates the core principles that fraternities are supposed to uphold.

Fighting the practice hazing is a tall order as curbing corruption in the country. Hazing is embedded and ingrained in the core of Filipino culture and traditions.

Nevertheless, the crusade against hazing and other forms of physical violence must be relentless. No to hazing!

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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