“Poor women victims are not laughing.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA –President Rodrigo Duterte’s rape joke in front of the 2nd Mechanized Infantry (Magbalantay) Brigade on May 26 earned the ire of human rights and women’s group, who recalled how they documented numerous rape cases perpetrated by state forces before, during and after Marcos’ martial law.
During his speech, Duterte expressed his support to the members of Armed Forces of Philippines (AFP) in implementing martial law in Mindanao. He said that he would take responsibility on the ramifications of martial law, including possible rape cases by soldiers.
Rape is “a heinous crime and it is not a laughing matter,” said Tanggol Bayi coordinator Gerifel Cerillo in a statement. She said rape has been used by state forces “to inflict violence, to humiliate, and to subjugate women into silence and submission.”
“It is a tool of the State to terrorize women, our children and families, our communities. It is a tool of war against women human rights defenders who fight back against State repression, poverty, injustice and intervention. It has been in counter-insurgency manuals of the US and Philippine military, written or implied,” she said.
The Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), a research and training institution for women, said they have documented 178 cases of sexual abuses committed by government soldiers and police from 2010 to 2015 and not a single perpetrator has been convicted.
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Several of these cases were in areas with high military deloyment. With the continuing culture of impunity, police and soldiers have became “bold and shameless perpetrators of sexual abuses,” said CWR.
“A militaristic attitude is misogynic and harms women. The view of women as sexual prey has always been present in military culture,” the group said.
Cerillo said Duterte’s remarks only encourages a “fascist institution, the AFP” to continue what it has been doing.
“Women, especially the poor who have been at the receiving end of such violence, are not laughing.”
The CWR lamented that Duterte even assured protection to would-be rapists, and “made women and girls more vulnerable to sexual violence.”
The group said that declaration of martial law in Mindanao showed Duterte’s powerlessness over the military. Under the present sitation, the Filipino people face a challenge. “We will handle the challenge with as much commitment as our foremothers had in fighting for human rights, peace based on social justice and sovereignty of our beloved Philippines,” said CWR.
Rape is not a laughing matter in any country.