Behind the screen: Sexual harassment hounds Philippine esports scene

Behind the screen: Sexual harassment hounds Philippine esports scene

Michelle Lojo (Philstar.com) - September 30, 2020 - 9:45am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine esports community has been voicing out their support for women gamers, promoting a safe gaming environment for all.

This amid the recent post of pro-gamer and streamer Em Dangla, professionally known as 'Kaisaya'.

Last September 26, Dangla shared in a lengthy Facebook her own experience of fighting sexual harassment she claimed to have suffered in the gaming scene.

It's almost two (2) years since I was denied from receiving justice when I was crying for help because of the sexual...

Posted by Em Dangla on Friday, September 25, 2020

In 2019, Dangla filed a case against professional streamer Zeus Torquator, who shared a private video of Dangla. The case was dropped when Shin Ponferrada, another streamer, declined to testify.

"I told myself I must stay strong and just think about the positive side. Maybe at least not sending them to jail and not revealing this story will still allow them to live a good life with their family and continue their careers," said Dangla in her post, referring to the time after her case was dropped.

"I let my empathy grow stronger regardless of the wrong things that were done to me. And that empathy is what's also hindering me for the past 2 years to speak up. I am not personally mad at them. I am mad at the actions they've done. I am mad because justice was not served when we could have done something about it!"

The incident is the recent word war between Torquator and Ponferrada prompted Dangla to speak up.

In a public post on social media, both Torquator and Ponferrada attacked each other until Ponferrada made a public comment that read, "I remember refusing to testify against you, dahil tropa pa rin ako despite ng nangyari."

Dangla condemned the use of the incident and having it being brought to light now in that manner, not to defend Torquator.

Dangla stated that she had remained quiet about the incident for the past two years so that they could all move on since they were all still working together in the gaming scene.

But Ponferrada publicly referring to the incident as some sort of a hit toward Torquator.

"One mistake cannot be fixed with another mistake," said Dangla.

"Should I have spoken sooner? I don't know. I recently just got the courage. This mental torture and injustice were already way too much for me to handle. At the same time, I feel like I must stand up and speak on behalf of those who were also oppressed and silenced because they are afraid dahil sikat yung oppressor nila or the people that wronged them."

Sexual harassment has been an ongoing topic not just in world gaming scene, but also locally.

In an episode of Eat Bulaga's "Bawal Judgemental" that aired last July 21 on GMA 7, one participant, Chantelle, aired out her own experience about being a female gamer in a male dominated arena.

Chantelle, who had initially been a professional player, having won tournaments for Mobile Legends, turned to shoutcasting/hosting/commenting during games instead due to the bias in treatment between male and female gamers.

Chantelle also shared her experience while streaming, how she received online harassments, comments on her streams having sexual content.

"I give you the respect, sana kami din na mga gamer o kahit caster, same 'yung tingin,” Chantelle said during the episode.

With the rise of esports given the pandemic and more women trying their own hand at gaming, all-female group Gamer Girls Philippines (GGP), a community whose main goal is to provide a safe space for female gamers, had risen in popularity, reaching 1000 members after a month, showing that the popularity of gaming is not just for men, but for women as well.

“The thinking that gaming is a guy's thing and because of this, girls don't even entertain the idea of trying or becoming interested in gaming.” said co-founder, Abby Lampa.

“Or they're afraid to speak out,” added co-founder Courtney Sayson.

This mindset has been evident with Dangla's recent post, as well as Chantelle's own experience in the gaming community.

Since Dangla's post last September 26, different esports teams, organizations, leagues and other professional gamers have voiced out their support to female gamers as well as condemning sexual harassment or any unruly behavior in the gaming arena.

Ponferrada has stated in a Facebook post how he will not deny what Dangla had posted.

Hi, I just woke up. I have no intentions of blackmailing Zeus but I am truly disappointed by him back as a professional...

Posted by Shin Boo Ponferrada on Friday, September 25, 2020

"I have no intentions of blackmailing Zeus but I am truly disappointed by him back as a professional and recently as a friend. I am not angry with Em nor will deny her accusation and the judgment of others. It was a lapse in judgment on my part years ago."

Torquator had also taken to Facebook to post his apology. "To all the people I've hurt, this message is for all the times I should have said something sooner, for all the times I shouldn't have done anything at all, but most importantly, it's for the times I should have said sorry."

I am fully aware of what’s roaming around the social media about me and my silence may have been taken out of context...

Posted by Zeus Torquator on Monday, September 28, 2020

Torquator also announced his decision to leave the eSports community. "As much as I want to ask for another chance and prove that my downfalls do not reflect my character as a whole, after considering hateful comments that mentally and emotionally affect not just me but the people I love the most, I made an important decision for myself and for the people I love."

This comes after the gaming company that employs Torquator, Luponwxc, announced on their Facebook page the indefinite suspension of Torquator.

In light with the recent statement by Em "Kaisaya" Dangla regarding the issue done by one of our caster, Zeus Torquator. We indefinitely suspend Zeus from his current position with the company.

Posted by Luponwxc on Friday, September 25, 2020

After sharing her experience, Dangla urged everyone to have the courage to speak out with their own experiences of sexual harassment in the esports community.

To all the people who are sending me private message saying they have experienced sexual harassment in the esports...

Posted by Em Dangla on Saturday, September 26, 2020

"Regardless of what your gender identity or sexuality is, now is the time to be courageous."

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