“Poverty, fascism, sexism. All of these fuel our fight for women’s rights.”
By HEATHER MARIAN AMOROSO
MANILA – Despite the heavy downpour, more than 1,000 women joined the #BabaeAko Women’s Freedom March to call out and put an end to President Rodrigo Duterte’s misogynistic and sexist acts.
Various women’s groups marched from Rizal (formerly Luneta) Park to Liwasang Bonifacio, where multisectoral organizations slammed the country’s ‘fake independence.’
Carrying various artworks reflecting the current situation of women, protesters chants drowned the sound of the rain.
The #BabaeAko Freedom March started as a social media campaign after Duterte kissed in public a married Filipino woman on stage during his official visit to South Korea. Duterte and his spokespersons, however, defended that the kiss was merely for fun and that the woman had given him her consent. He added that he would step down as president if enough women protested against him.
In her speech, Joms Salvador, secretary general of women’s rights group Gabriela, said, “Duterte should make good his promise to resign should women protest this so-called ‘no malice kiss,’ Here we are, marching in protest and many others are taking the social media, and we dare him to make good on his pronouncement.”
“He [Duterte] has often used his ‘being in authority’ figure to take advantage of women, kissing them in public, catcalling and verbally spewing out anti-women jokes, as he calls it,” she added.
During his presidential candidacy, Duterte “joked” about an Australian missionary raped by prisoners in 1989.
Upon his assumption in office, Duterte’s sexist remarks continued. Weeks after he imposed martial law in Mindanao, Duterte told his soldiers, “If you had raped three, I will admit it, that’s on me.” In another speech on his Feb. 7, Duterte said that female communist guerrillas should be shot in the vagina.
Jelen Paclarin of Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau told Bulatlat that Duterte’s public remarks of rape jokes and examples of misogynism normalizes the unethical acts and remarks.
Paclarin said that those who defend the President’s remarks are promoting the culture of rape and sexual violence. “They are claiming that such sexist behavior is normal, that it’s part of Filipino culture,” she said in Filipino.
For Gabriela, Duterte’s misogynistic nature reflects — and reinforces – the patriarchal and feudal values entrenched in the consciousness of many Filipinos.
Despite this, Salvador said that the fight for women’s rights remains strong and unwavering.
“Poverty, fascism, sexism. All of these fuel our fight for women’s rights. We fight against violence and sexism. We actively participate in the movement for change, in creating history,” Salvador said.