MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration has created an environment dangerous to women, a gender and governance expert said in a recent forum on the state of the presidency.
“At no other time have women been subjected to shaming, humiliation, harassment, with immunity [and] impunity by a sitting president than now," regional gender and governance adviser Socorro Reyes said at the 11th State of the Presidency forum at the University of the Philippines Diliman on Friday, July 19.
Reyes said rampant sexism also caused female politicians to remain mostly silent while Senator Leila de Lima endured slut-shaming from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
“Takot sila magsalita kasi [may] pambabastos, kasi may slut shamers (They’re scared to speak up because they will be insulted and there is slut-shaming),” she said.
Reyes said that based on a study of the Center for Women Resources (CWR), cops committed 13 cases of sexual abuse between January 2017 and July 2018.
She said that while the country already has laws addressing sexism and misogyny like the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, and Republic Act No. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act or Bawal ang Bastos law, the challenge was in mplementation and enforcement.
The Safe Spaces Act penalizes wolf whistling, catcalling, misogynistic and homophobic slurs, and unwanted sexual advances, among others, in public places, workplaces, and schools. The law also seeks to protect women from online harassment.
“The signing of the Safe Spaces Act does not, will not, and cannot change the misogynistic, sexist, macho character of Duterte,” she said.
Duterte has been widely criticized for his sexist remarks during public speeches. At the inauguration of the Armscor Shooting Range in February 2018, he joked that soldiers should shoot female rebels in the vagina to render them useless. (READ: From 'fragrant' Filipinas to shooting vaginas: Duterte's top 6 sexist remarks)
Macel Pagdanganan is an intern at Rappler. She is an incoming second-year journalism student of University of Santo Tomas.