De Lima joins UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence


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            Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima joined an international webinar marking the start of this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a yearly global campaign by UN Women, which begins during the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Nov. 25), and runs until the International Human Rights Day (Dec. 10).

Women’s rights advocate Dr. Socorro Reyes, who represented De Lima as one of the speakers in the online forum, cited the lady Senator as among the most vilified women political leaders in the country who continues to be on the receiving end of attacks by the Duterte administration simply because she is fighting for human rights.

            Reyes, the regional gender and governance adviser of the Center for Legislative Development and an active member of the Committee for the Freedom of Leila M. de Lima, spoke about violence against women in politics – particularly that of the detained Senator – during a webinar last Nov. 25.

            Organized by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party and co-hosted by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), the webinar was dubbed as “Liberal Breakfast to End Violence Against Women in Politics!”

            “Indeed, the risks and threats faced by women political leaders have increased in pandemic proportions in this age of digital technology as we see social media platforms being used and abused to vilify, slut-shame women, slut-shame honorable, competent, dignified women like Senator Leila de Lima,” Reyes said.

            “I do not remember any woman political leader in recent history that has suffered as much violence on her person, honor, and dignity as Senator De Lima, after she dared expose the human rights abuses of the country’s highest political leader, and spoke truth to power,” she added.

            Furthermore, Reyes recalled that Mr. Duterte vowed to destroy De Lima from Day 1 of his presidency because the Senator posed a threat to him.

            “Senator Leila de Lima crossed paths with Mr. Duterte when as Chair of the Human Rights Commission, she led a probe on extrajudicial killings in Davao City where he was mayor,” Reyes recalled.

            “When she was elected to the Philippine Senate in May 2016, and subsequently appointed Chair of the Senate Committee on Justice [and Human Rights], she continued her investigation into extrajudicial killings and presented to the Committee a witness of the Davao killings, further courting the ire of Duterte,” she added.

            Despite the threats and attacks against De Lima, Reyes commended the Senator for keeping an indomitable spirit that is unfazed by Duterte’s efforts to destroy her and tarnish her good reputation.

“But even as she is detained, Senator De Lima has kept working and a lack of access to electronic gadgets, like computers, iPad, cell phone, and others, has not prevented her from authoring or co-authoring 104 bills and 109 resolutions [during this 18th Congress], respectively, as of November 23, 2020,” Reyes said.

            Ultimately, Reyes described De Lima, who has been named by the Amnesty International as one of the Notable Women Human Rights Defenders Under Threat in 2017, as “tough, unfazed, indomitable.” (30)

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