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“Pag naka-rape ka ng tatlo, aminin ko na akin iyon.” (If you rape three (women), I will say that I did it).
These are the words of Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte to the soldiers in the military base near Marawi last Friday, May 26, 2017. The remark was made to assure the troops that he would take full responsibility of their actions during the martial law.
The remark gained mixed reactions from netizens, from people who are condemning the statement to those defending the President and labelling it as reverse psychology.
This is not the first time Duterte joked about rape. Last April 2016, the president was highly criticized due to his comments on the rape and death of Australian missionary Jaqueline Hamill.
“P***** i**, sayang ito. Ang nagpasok sa isip ko, nirape nila, pinagpilahan nila doon. Nagalit ako kasi nirape? Oo, isa rin ‘yun . Pero napakaganda, dapat ang mayor muna ang mauna. Sayang,” Duterte said during a campaign rally.
(Son of a b****, what a waste. I was thinking that they raped her and lined up. I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first, what a waste.)
Jacqueline was gang raped by the inmates of Davao City Detention Center before her throat was cut.
Rape is not a joke
GABRIELA Women’s Party calls Duterte’s rape joke as highly insensitive and issued the following statement:
“Rape is not a joke. Martial law and the heightened vulnerability to military abuse that it brings to women and children are not a joke either. President Duterte must be reminded that a rape joke made even as women and children’s lives are in great danger and when liberties and basic rights are being attacked is the height of insensitivity. This attempt to please the military forces using women to feed the macho-fascist mentality of the AFP emboldens military forces to systematically use rape as a tool of war and subject women to further abuse and impunity. We demand that the President consider first and foremost the interest and protection of women and children from abuse and lift the martial law declaration immediately.”
Indeed, rape is not a joke. In a research conducted by the Center for Women’s Resources (CWR), they found out that one woman or child is raped every 53 minutes, and yet some people still think that rape is funny and those who do not laugh about it just doesn’t get dark humor.
No, a person being raped every 53 minutes is not funny. It is not something you use to boost the morale of soldiers who are about to fight terrorists for you. It is not something you use to drive a point. It is an issue that is too big to ignore, least of all make fun of. Using rape as a form of entertainment is cheap and further fuels the rape culture in our country.
Rape dropped from death penalty offenses
On February 20, the House majority decided in a caucus to remove rape from the offenses punishable by death in order to increase the chances of the bill being passed in Senate.
“Kami ang posisyon ni (House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez), i-whittle natin sa bare minimum. Tingnan natin kung papasa sa Senate kasi if we include so many offenses and ‘di maski isa ‘di papasa sa Senate (We agreed with the position of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to whittle it down to the bare minimum of offenses. Let’s see if it passes in the Senate because if we include so many offenses, it may not get passed in the Senate),” House majority leader Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas explained.
With the removal of rape, the death penalty bill now only covers drug-related crimes, treason, and plunder.
Following the announcement, Philippine ambassador to the United Nations Teddy Locsin Jr. took to Twitter his approval for the removal of rape from the list.
Locsin continued to defend himself after netizens questioned his definition for heinous crimes, stating that rape is heinous when the rapist is ugly, and varies on case to case basis.
Rape culture is prevalent in the Philippines. The term, which was coined in the 70’s by feminists, is defined as the social attitudes that normalize or trivialize rape, including but not limited to victim blaming, slut shaming and the acceptance of sexual violence in the society. It also covers rape jokes, the objectification and exploitation of women, and the culture of violence against anyone who freely expresses their sexuality.
Aside from Duterte, a manifestation of rape culture in the country is Senator Titto Sotto who, just last July 9, victim shamed a woman who was sexually assaulted by her male friend after having drinks. “Kasalanan ng lahat ng ‘yan ng pag-inom… Kababae mong tao pa-shot-shot ka (That’s all because of drinking. You’re woman and you’re doing shots?)”
The act was aired over live television Eat Bulaga’s “Juan for All, All for Juan” segment, where the senator even asked the woman what she was wearing and how short they were, implying that it has something to do with her being harassed. He later issued a clarification for his remarks after being bashed by netizens, which in itself was a non-apology.
“It was a simple reaction saying that a married lady should not be out at night having shots [or drinking] with men other than her husband.”
Another form of rape culture that is widely observed in the country is the belief that sexual violence is an everyday occurrence that cannot be helped, and therefore women should cover themselves up and take note of their actions in order to avoid harassment. Assuming that rape can be prevented by following a certain behavior or dress code is an erroneous way of thinking. In fact, studies show that women with passive personalities, who tend to dress in layers, long pants and sleeves and high necklines, are actually more likely to be raped. In one study, 1 in 3 college men said that they would force someone to have sex if they could get away with it, and that has nothing to do with clothing.
End rape culture
The first step in solving a problem is admitting that there is one. In order to end rape culture, we need to acknowledge that it exists in the society. Therefore, we need to drive the point to politicians and people in power who cannot grasp the severity of the issue. We need to inform the populace that this is happening, and we need to help them see why this needs to be condemned.
Speak up about rape culture. Raise awareness, education, and reform.
Written by Julinda Gallego