Protests mark int’l women’s day
Female protesters and other activists on Thursday held marches, rallies and demonstrations across the globe to highlight domestic violence, sexual attacks, and discrimination in jobs and wages on International Women’s Day.
There were protests against human rights violations in the Philippines, a surging #MeToo movement in South Korea, a call by Myanmar’s female leader for women to use their strength and banners making light of a proposed constitutional amendment to scrap term limits for Xi Jinping in China.
In Europe, protesters in Spain got to an early start, launching a 24-hour strike during which women have been called on to stop working, whether at the company or at home.
In Manila, hundreds of activists in pink and purple shirts protested against President Duterte, calling him among the worst violators of women’s rights in Asia.
They sang and danced in boisterous rallies at Liwasang Bonifacio, Plaza Miranda and Chino Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola), handing red and white roses to mothers, sisters and widows of drug suspects slain under Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs.
Protest leader Jean Enriquez also railed against Mr. Duterte’s remarks against women saying: “We’re so alarmed. We have seen his direct attacks on women under his iron-hand rule and it’s now time to heighten our resistance.”
Human rights groups have condemned Mr. Duterte’s sexist remarks, including one in which he asked troops to shoot female communist rebels in the genitals.
Suu Kyi’s call to action
In Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi urged women to build peaceful democracies using their strength in politics, economics and social issues.
Suu Kyi’s speech marked the third International Women’s Day celebrated in Myanmar under a civilian government.
She led her party to a landslide victory in 2015 elections and exercises power in government even though the country’s constitution bars her from the presidency.
“A country’s human rights values will be enhanced when women are granted their rights,” she said.
“Also by using women’s strength and ability, it will be supportive to the development of the economy as well,” she added.
Students poke fun at Xi
In China, students at the prestigious Tsinghua University used the occasion to make light of a proposed constitutional amendment to scrap term limits for the country’s president.
China’s ceremonial legislature is poised to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely during its annual session.
One banner joked that a boyfriend’s term should also have no limits, while another said, “A country cannot exist without a constitution, as we cannot exist without you!”
Photos of the students’ banners, like other content about the proposed amendment, were quickly censored on social media.
Despite heavy censorship, the amendment has been satirized online and criticized by liberal intellectuals as a return to dictatorship.
Hundreds of South Koreans, many wearing black and holding black signs reading #MeToo, rallied in central Seoul.
They called for bringing alleged sex offenders to justice, as well as action on issues such as closing a gender pay gap.
Since a female prosecutor’s revelation in January of workplace mistreatment and sexual misconduct, South Korea’s #MeToo movement has gained major traction.
The list of women who speak out is growing day by day.
Several high-profile men have resigned from positions of power, including a governor who was a leading presidential contender before he was accused of repeatedly raping his female secretary.
‘My body, my choice’
In India, female protesters carried placards reading, “Unite against violence against Women,” “Man enough to say no to domestic abuse” and “My body, my choice.”
Violent crime against women has been on the rise in India despite tough laws enacted by the government.
Office workers, schoolteachers and sex workers were among those participating in the 2-kilometer march, which ended near Parliament.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “India is moving from women development to women-led development. Through their exemplary deeds, several women have left an indelible mark in the history of humankind.”
In Afghanistan, women gathered in the capital Kabul to remind the government that plenty of work remained to be done to give them a voice, ensure their education and protect them from increasing violence.
Other International Women’s Day events were planned across Asia, Middle East, Europe and the Americas. —AP
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