NEW YORK CITY— In the wake of rising numbers of increasing criminality in the world today, exacerbated by an undercurrent of competition over resources, women’s vulnerability has intensified. Of no help in ameliorating the continuing femicide are misogynist pronouncements from the world’s predominantly male leadership which has turned a consistently blind eye to the epidemic of violence against women the world over.
Comes now the president of the Philippines who, in typical fashion, brushes away the condemnatory fact that his home city of Davao leads in the number of sexual assaults. Brushing this aside, Rodrigo Duterte said that as there were many beautiful women in his city, frequent rapes would necessarily follow.
In effect, he downgrades sexual assault from a crime to a compliment.
Which shouldn’t hold water even for his daughter, Sara, mayor of Davao City, who had publicly come out as a rape survivor.
But in the framework of feudal warlordism, wives, daughters, sisters and/or mistresses are avatars of male power; rare is the female who would go against her own patriarch. Indeed, Sara Duterte ignored her father’s comment and demanded instead of “critics” – “what have you done to help Davao?” It seems that after 30 years in power, outside help is still needed by a clan that self-entitles to absolute political and economic power over a settler city.
The high occurrence of sexual assault in the Duterte city comes along with being fifth among regions in HIV/AIDS cases. According to its own City Health Office, there were 2,330 cases – a palpable increase since mandatory testing in business establishments. The city also has a thriving house and street prostitution trade, with many women taken or brought or moving to the city as it gives free rein to the women, the customers and the “management” – i.e., pimps and brothel owners.
But this cavalier misogyny the Philippine president insists on displaying full frontal as it were translates to even worse fates for the women and girls of the Philippines. Aside from being traded overseas as domestic workers – despite the modern term, the DWs themselves use such language as “I am being sold to a new owner, betraying their lack of “agency” – in the millions, even to areas of armed conflict; aside from being bought and sold locally in the tourism market flooded by men from China, Australia, Germany, and other places; aside from having to endure a legal age of consent of 12 years old; aside from not even being able to divorce out of a non-viable marriage; aside from … a litany can be made of all the structures and practices used to maintain the oppression of and violence against women in the country Duterte is supposed to govern. However, far worse is how easily girls and women have been killed, in the supposed “war on drugs” which, from the very beginning, was nothing more than a serial killer’s orgy, targeting the poorest while “drug lords” he had named himself remain at large, protected and/or have charges against them dropped.
On behalf of our members who are of Philippine ancestry, both US-born and immigrant, we denounce Rodrigo Duterte’s persistent insults against the women of the Philippines, his persistent encouragement of violence against them, his insistence on their humiliation. We condemn with equal outrage his spokesperson Harry Roque and all his minions who continue to excuse and applaud his overt rage against women.
And lastly, we echo the uncompromising words of the organization #EveryWoman, which we render her in English from the Philippine language Tagalog: “Rape is not a subject for jokes. And the criminality that you (President Duterte) tolerates in Davao is one of our proofs to your being a liar and a hypocrite.”
That women of the Philippines can make such a bold denunciation even in the midst of the terror unleashed by Duterte gives us both inspiration and hope.
Oust the bastard.