Rape comes with territory for Filipino workers abroad–Duterte
DIMASALANG, MASBATE — In a statement likely to rile women’s groups again, President Duterte on Wednesday said that the possibility of rape “comes with the territory” when working abroad.
“[For those] working as slaves [overseas], rape [comes with] the territory. Kasali sa kultura (It’s part of the culture),” Mr. Duterte said in a speech during the launch of the Department of Trade and Industry’s “Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay” in this town.
Of the estimated 2.3 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) recorded from April to September 2017, more than half—1.26 million—are women, most of whom work as house maids, hotel employees or office cleaners in the Middle East, government statistics show.
According to Migrante International, it has documented 1,549 cases of maltreatment and 308 cases of rape and sexual abuse among OFWs as of 2016 in Kuwait alone.
Misogyny grounded on power
Although women’s groups have yet to comment on the President’s statement, the Gabriela Women’s Party on Thursday lauded the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) for speaking out against “public officials … [who] continue to perpetuate misogyny grounded on power.”
“This is a clear sign that women advocates in government are fed up with the President’s brazen promotion of sexual violence in public,” Gabriela said.
The PCW said in a statement on Monday that treating women as sex objects to lighten discussions “[was] no laughing matter.”
The agency, which did not name any official, was reacting to a statement by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, who described as a joke Mr. Duterte’s public confession on Dec. 29 that he had inappropriately touched a family maid when he was a teenager.
At Wednesday’s DTI event, the President described as “dysfunctional” families whose mothers leave to work overseas, adding that the mothers’ absence and drug addiction resulted in, among other problems, fathers molesting their children.
“With the mothers gone, the eldest daughter becomes the surrogate [wife],” he said.
The President also criticized human rights advocates for their silence on other abuses while zeroing in on the government, describing them as “the enemy [who] wants to ruin the government.”
He slammed public officials and police officers for getting involved in the drug trade.
“I have three more years to go. If you want to go back to drugs, you just wait. Don’t do it now,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM VINCE F. NONATO
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