*********trigger warning: sexual assault and violence**************
On Monday, the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte spoke at an event for the country’s National Women’s Month, that was meant to honor outstanding women in law enforcement and national security, but in his speech, Duterte referred to the women as “crazy” and “bitches” that deprive him of the “freedom” to express himself. Duterte started his speech saying: “Puta (bitches), you know you women are depriving me of my freedom of expression. You criticise every sentence or word I say, but that is my freedom to express myself.” In his speech, Duterte defended himself by saying he loves women, and the fact that he has two wives is proof. His speech was prompted by the criticism he faced for his comments on women and priests.
Last week, Duterte faced backlash because he warned women to stay away from Catholic priests because they would be “cornered” and “courted” by them.. He claimed priests would be inclined to assault women because of the “scent” of their bodies. After facing outrage from the public for his comments, he stated in his speech that women that were the exception of his remarks were merely “rejects” of priests.
Because the Filipino president has been under fire for controversial, sexist comments since entering office, women have continuously protested against him. For International Women’s Day, activists around the Philippines marched in protest of Duterte. In 2018, he said female guerrilla fighters would be shot in the vagina, and claimed that without vaginas, women are “useless.” During his election campaign in 2016, he joked about the 1989 prison riot where an Australian missionary was killed and prison inmates lined up to rape her, by stating he wished he had the opportunity to do so as well, and as mayor he should have been the first. This past December, he claimed he molested a teenage maid.
Besides his large variety of controversial comments on women, Duterte has also faced criticism for his violent approach to the Philippine antidrug war, which has brought thousands of brutal deaths, and his threats to journalism and journalists. Because of his controversial comments, Duterte’s attempted to consolidate his reputation by threatening multiple news outlets and journalists in the past, including Maria Ressa, who brought international attention to Duterte’s violent war on drugs; she was arrested last month.
Media Resources: LA Times 3/12/19; Independent UK 3/12/19; Rappler 3/12/19; The Guardian 3/12/19; TIME 3/12/19; Feminist News 2/14/19