As Long As There Are Beautiful Women, There Will Be Rapes: Philippines President's 'Joke' Sparks Outrage
Rodrigo Duterte was referring to a recent police report that Davao, his hometown where he once served as mayor, had recorded several instances of sexual violence.
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. (Reuters)
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest ‘joke’ linking the increasing rape cases in the southern city of Davao to “beautiful women” in the area has landed him in a row, with activists calling him out for “normalising rape”.
Duterte, in a speech on Thursday, said “They said there are many rape cases in Davao. As long as there are many beautiful women, there will be more rape cases.”
According to the Washington Post, he was referring to a recent police report that Davao, his hometown where he once served as mayor, had recorded several instances of sexual violence.
“Who agrees to do it on the first request anyway? Will the woman allow it? No. 'Don’t, no, ahhh.' Nobody agrees to do it on the first try,” the President added as audience members could be seen laughing along.
The statement did not go down well with women’s rights groups who accused him of trying to normalise sexual assault.
“Duterte seems to hate women so much that he comes up with statements that help normalise rape. This is unacceptable. Not from anyone, especially not from the highest official of the land. Not only does he advance the idea that rape normally happens to beautiful women, he makes men believe that it is okay to rape,” Filipino women’s rights activist Elizabeth Angsioco told the Al Jazeera.
As outrage over the incident grew, Duterte’s office tried to play down the incident, with his spokesman telling the New York Times that “too much weight” should not be given to the statement. “I don’t think we should give too much weight on what the president says by way of a joke. They’re (activists) not okay with rape jokes, but let’s just say that perhaps the standard of what is offensive and what is not offensive is more liberal in the south,” Harry Roque said.
However, this is not the first time the President has made light of the issue of sexual violence.
In July 2017, he said it was probably acceptable for someone to rape the Miss Universe winner but not children. He had also said soldiers working in areas where martial law had been declared could “rape three women without facing punishment”, The Washington Post reported.
Duterte went a step further when he called his daughter a “drama queen”, after she alleged that she had been sexually assaulted, The New York Times said.
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