The Rape President
Duterte is fixated on rape. He’s obsessed with it. He jokes about rape. He likes to tell stories about rape, like the time when he casually, proudly recalled how he molested a household help. He even has defined ideas about rape, which he believes is, well, just a part of life for many women.
That was clear with his most recent pronouncement on rape, when he declared that, for overseas Filipino women workers, rape “comes with the territory.”
“[For those] working as slaves [overseas], rape [comes with] the territory. Kasali sa kultura (It’s part of the culture),” Duterte said in a speech.
Duterte is the first Philippine president in our history to focus so much energy and time on the discussion of rape. He is the country’s first Rape President.
Hopefully, of course, he will be the last.
For now, Filipinos are stuck with him.
“Abuse, maltreatment and violence become part of the territory only if they’re allowed to be — and, unfortunately, reckless presidential words, intended or not, can lend a hand in normalizing them,” the Inquirer said in an editorial .
By now, it’s clear, that reckless and mean-spirited words and pronouncements are what Duterte is about. That’s not going to change.
We’re stuck with a leader with an astounding capacity for disrespect toward women, minorities and working people.
Our urgent task in the coming years is to keep exposing Duterte’s relentless attempts to denigrate women, working people and other groups that historically have suffered abuse. And it is to not get used to his reckless and mean-spirted words, to have the guts and energy to challenge and denounce them. It is to not get tired of exposing, denouncing, condemning Duterte’s words.
I’m writing this because, frankly, I was starting to get tired of doing just that. I wasn’t going to comment on yet another jaw-dropping comment from the Rape President. I was getting tired.
Also, I remembered the EDSA anniversary is just a few weeks away.
In about a month, we will be reminded again of what happens when we get used to and just accept a leader spouting reckless, mean-spirited lies, and how many Filipinos, including many women, refused to get used to the reckless, mean-spirited lies.
And how that, in the end, was how we put an end to the lies and the abuse.
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