Hundreds of activists wearing purple and pink shirts rallied in the Philippine capital on Thursday to protest women’s rights violations and denounce President Rodrigo Duterte’s sexist remarks. The demonstrators handed roses to widows, mothers and sisters of drug suspects killed in Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs at a rally in a public plaza in downtown Manila. They also sang and danced while carrying placards and banners, calling for female empowerment and better opportunities in the country. Jean Enriquez, one of the organisers of the demonstration, said the protesters were also denouncing Duterte’s misogynist remarks.
“We are so alarmed. We have seen his direct attacks against women under his iron-hand rule,’’ she said. In February, Duterte told soldiers to shoot female communist rebels in the genitals, in his latest remarks to be denounced by rights groups for encouraging violence against women. In May 2017, he told soldiers he would protect them against criminal charges, even if they rape three women, while implementing martial law in the southern region of Mindanao. “Now, more than ever, we have experienced the ingrained prejudice against our womanhood,” the Centre for Women’s Resources said in a statement on International Women’s Day.
“President Duterte himself promotes misogyny, objectification and discrimination against women.” “When the highest leader of the land mocks us, cracks a sex joke that degrades us, we could not expect any let-up in the number of abuses,” it added. The centre noted that 17 female activists have been killed and 42 arrested in the period since Duterte took office on June 30, 2016, until December 2017. According to the centre, in the past two months there have been 796 reported cases of rape – almost 15 a day – in the Philippines. Domestic violence remains high, with a woman or child being battered every 15 minutes, it added.