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The Philippine President told women rebels his forces will 'shoot them in the vagina'

Tara Francis Chan
  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged state forces to commit sexually violent acts against women rebels, including shooting them in the vagina.
  • The president reiterated the comments during a speech, and a spokesperson for Duterte said the comments were "funny."
  • Duterte is a controversial leader, having made misogynist claims in the past. He is currently being investigated for crimes against humanity.
  • He remains relatively popular in the Philippines, but support for his policies has been mixed.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte encouraged state forces to commit sexually violent acts against women rebels in a speech last week.

Duterte told former rebels to not kill women rebels, but instead shoot them in the vagina. According to a translation from the local media outlet Rappler, Duterte encouraged the act twice.

"Tell the soldiers, there's a new order coming from Mayor. We won't kill you. We will just shoot your vagina," Duterte said at one point, referencing his previous title of Mayor. He then said these women would be "useless."

The comments are not out of character for Duterte has previously made jokes about sexual assault while president and instigated an extrajudicial war on drugs that has killed more than 12,000 people.

Duterte's spokesman responded to the latest incident by saying the president's comments were "funny," but human-rights agencies have harshly criticised the "misogynist, derogatory and demeaning statements."

"It encourages state forces to commit sexual violence during armed conflict, which is a violation of international humanitarian law," Carlos Conde, a Human Rights Watch representative in the Philippines said.

Philippine government representative Emmi de Jesus said Duterte "has further presented himself as the epitome of misogyny and fascism terribly rolled in one."

"Duterte's latest nasty remark openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further confirms himself as the most dangerous macho-fascist in the government right now," she said in a statement.

Duterte is a highly controversial leader. The International Criminal Court is currently investigating the president for crimes against humanity associated with the country's war on drugs. Duterte responded by saying he was ok with imprisonment as long as conjugal visits by many women were possible.

But locally, Duterte has high opinion polling. In October, 80% of polled Filipinos said they trusted and approved of their leader. However, local support for Duterte's actual policies is quite mixed.