President Duterte’s Rape Joke: A Go-signal to Sex Abusers among Troops –CWR

29 May 2017

We, the members of the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), a 35-year research and training institution for women, express our concern on the recent rape joke made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in relation to the Marawi siege at the moment.

The rape joke reinforces the culture of impunity of soldiers who are sex offenders. We have counted 178 cases of sexual abuses committed by government soldiers and police from 2010 to 2015 where not a single perpetrator had been convicted. Making the issue of rape in jest adds anxiety to the Marawi women and their families who are already suffering due to massive military operation in their community.

Rape and other sexual abuses are used as a tool of war. These heinous acts are used as a form of intimidation tactic against community leaders or as a warning to those thought to be threats or enemies. A militaristic attitude is misogynic and harms women. The view of women as sexual prey has always been present in military culture. Several cases of sexual abuse have already been documented in areas of high military deployment. As soldiers and police enjoy the culture of impunity, they become bold and shameless perpetrators of sexual abuses.

An assurance of protection (when a crime of rape or any human rights violation has been committed) coming from no less than the President himself gives a go-signal to abusers and makes women and girls more vulnerable to sexual violence.

President Duterte’s militaristic approach in the Marawi crisis only shows his powerlessness over the military. His declaration of martial law signifies his partiality to military rule. May we remind the President that he is not only the chief of soldiers and police but he is also the leader of the entire Filipino people who need peace based on social justice. Thus, instead of a militaristic approach, we urge him to give his full support to the resumption of the peace negotiations between the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) and the signing of an agreement on comprehensive social and economic reforms that would address the roots of armed conflict in the country.

We, Filipino women, will consider the present condition as a challenge we have to face. Surely, 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. #