Wed, Jul 17, 2019 - Page 1 News List

‘Misogynist’ Duterte decried over anti-harassment law


Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte returns a salute as he arrives at Jolo Airport in the Philippines on Monday.

Photo: AP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose rape jokes have sparked outrage in the past, yesterday drew fresh flak after signing a law against sexual harassment, with campaigners saying that his role as “misogynist-in-chief” would make implementation challenging.

Duterte, who has been accused of sexual harassment on multiple occasions, in April signed the law that prohibits behavior such as catcalling and sexist slurs, according to the text released on Monday.

The 74-year-old was “the single most brazen violator of the law’s intent with his staple macho-fascist remarks,” women’s rights political party Gabriela said on Twitter. “Under this context, implementing the law will certainly be a challenge.”

The law imposes fines and, in some cases, prison sentences for sexual harassment on the streets, in schools and in offices, including wolf-whistling, groping, misogynistic slurs, as well as uninvited comments or gestures referring to a person’s appearance.

Opposition Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros, the law’s author, welcomed its passage, saying that it would plug gaps in previous legislation against sexual harassment, but added that it was “only as good as how it is implemented.”

Duterte has stirred controversy in the past over his treatment of women.

In 2016, he wolf-whistled a female journalist during a nationally televised news conference, while last year he kissed a Filipina woman on the lips onstage during a visit to South Korea in a move that prompted accusations of abuse of power.

The president last year urged soldiers to shoot female guerillas in the vagina.

He also provoked fury in 2016 when he said that he had wanted to rape a “beautiful” Australian missionary who had been sexually assaulted then murdered in a Philippine prison riot.

Referring to Duterte as “the misogynist-in-chief,” journalist and campaigner Inday Espina-Varona said that while the law was “long overdue, his signing it only rams home the truth: He believes himself above the law.”

Duterte’s arch-critic, detained Philippine Senator Leila De Lima, said that she hoped the president would not be exempt from compliance.

The president had repeatedly criticized De Lima over an affair, saying that she was “not only screwing her driver, she is also screwing the nation,” referring to drug trafficking charges that she said were politically motivated.

“If we count all his acts and comments disrespecting women since he came to power, the penalties under the law would be sorely lacking,” De Lima said in a statement.

Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo said that the president would comply with the law, but rejected misogyny allegations.

“When he cracks jokes, it is intended to make people laugh, never to offend,” Salvador Panelo told reporters. “You women should know that. Misogyny is different from making people laugh.”

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