In the celebration of International Women’s Day today (March 8), Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has joined the chorus of women leaders here and around the world in calling for an end to all forms of misogynist attacks against women.
De Lima, one of the most distinguished women human rights defenders, said there is an urgent need to stop despots and looming authoritarians in many parts of the world from impeding the progress of women in building a more gender-balanced society.
According to her, the small and big triumphs of women globally towards gender equality are getting wasted because of the rise of “strong men” like Mr. Duterte who promotes sexism and misogyny with impunity.
“Let us all come together in our common defense of human rights. Let us fight with renewed vigor for the dignity of women and equality of everyone. Let us work for a safer and more humane world for all of us,” she said.
“End misogyny and other attacks, onward women!,” she added.
In highlighting the war that Duterte is waging against women in the country, the lady Senator from Bicol recalled repeated instances where Mr. Duterte threatened violence against the opposite gender.
She noted that in just two months into his presidency, Mr. Duterte already launched his tirade against her by tagging her as an “immoral woman” and later used his political machinery to unjustly arrest and detain her for opposing his war on drugs.
De Lima also recalled that Duterte also incited violence against women when he encouraged Filipino soldiers that they could each rape up to three women with impunity when he declared martial law in Mindanao in 2017.
She also recalled how Mr. Duterte has publicly instructed the military to shoot female rebels in their vagina to render them “useless.”
“The hostility of these ‘strong men’ towards female empowerment is obvious. They view women as a force that threaten their hold on power, in the same way that political opposition and human rights defenders are being seen as unnecessary checks on their undemocratic behavior and policies,” she noted.
“The politics of bigotry and misogyny being practiced by autocrats and demagogues in many countries [i]s seriously chipping away the considerable gains in the global struggle towards fully empowering women and fostering gender balance,” she added.
Aside from the Philippines, the former justice secretary cited United States of America, Russia, Brazil, Hungary, and Poland as among the countries where prejudice and attacks against women remain rampant.
“International Women’s Day is a global day to celebrate women empowerment and promote gender equality. In recent years, however, the many achievements of, and for women are getting repudiated as authoritarianism and ‘strongman’ populism are on a steady rise in the different regions of the world,” she said.
Amid the continued struggle towards women empowerment and equality of everyone globally, De Lima urged women leaders and human rights advocates to cooperate with other activist groups, some enlightened inter-government bodies and a number of progressive governments to stop the authoritarian and populist resurgence.
“With will, determination and solidarity, we can still defeat the politics of hatred and the growing culture of intolerance and impunity in our midst,” she said. Aware of the worsening abuses against women under the Duterte administration, De Lima earlier filed Senate Bill No. 1438 which seeks to provide protection of women in state custody and Senate Resolution No. 670 calling for a Senate inquiry into the implementation of the Gender and Development plans and programs under the present administration.