Digong rape joke violated women’s rights–CHR
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday ruled that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte violated the Magna Carta of Women (MCW) when he made a joke about the rape and killing of an Australian missionary.
In a statement, the CHR said it found “the words and actions of Mayor Duterte to be discriminatory of women, [as provided for] by the Magna Carta of Women.”
“The CHR has the sacred constitutional duty to protect human rights and to call out persons when these rights are violated no matter what their position in society may be,” CHR Chair Chito Gascon said in a statement.
“The Commission believes that this mandate does not [absolve] Mayor Duterte from acts committed or words uttered in the course of the electoral campaign when it involves breaches to fundamental rights, in this case, the prohibition of gender-based discrimination and violence,” he added.
In an April 12 campaign rally in Quezon city, Duterte had been talking about the 1989 hostage crisis in the Davao penal colony, when he said of Jacqueline Hamill, an Australian missionary held hostage by the prisoners: “Son of a bitch, what a waste. I was thinking that they raped her and lined up. I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first.”
The remark sparked outrage from various sectors and forced Duterte’s political party to apologize for him, as the front-runner in the presidential race had initially refused to do so.
On April 20, a coalition of women’s groups, the “Women Against Duterte,” filed a complaint in the CHR, asking that Duterte be held liable for violating the MCW for “words and acts” that showed “callous, derogatory and insulting treatment” of women.
In a phone interview with the Inquirer on Wednesday, lawyer Krissi Shafinna Twyla Rubin of the CHR Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights Center said the CHR resolution holding Duterte liable for violating the MCW was rooted in the complaint by the women’s group.
Rubin explained that in issuing the resolution against Duterte, the CHR “looked at the effect of the utterance to women,” and found that based on interviews, his statement about Hamill had “caused harm to rape victims and survivors,” caused a “setback” to women’s groups’ struggles, and exposed women to violence.
“The victims of sexual violence said [Duterte’s joke] revived their trauma. It made them afraid that rapists will proliferate, and that other women will be afraid to report rape, because it is now belittled and considered a joke,” Rubin said.
She added that the efforts of women’s organizations to stamp out “sexist jokes” and overturn the objectification of women had effectively been disregarded and had been “set back,” as “sexist jokes have now become commonplace again.”
Rubin said that as part of its investigation, the CHR also sought out Duterte for his comment about the women’s complaint.
The mayor’s legal counsel replied that while he was “not under any legal obligation to comment,” Duterte was simply “exercising his freedom of expression,” the CHR official said.
The legal counsel also claimed that there was a “failure to substantiate the allegations” and accused the CHR of “flagrant partisanship,” Rubin said.
While the MCW was simply an enumeration of rights and does not have a punitive portion, Rubin said the CHR resolution and all records on the case against Duterte would be forwarded for action to the appropriate government agencies—the Civil Service Commission, the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Office of the Ombudsman.
The CHR also made a recommendation to Congress for it to include sanctions for violations of the Magna Carta of Women, and to amend the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, so that employers would be required to conduct yearly gender sensitivity seminars for their employees.
The Civil Service Commission should consider as well passing a resolution requiring all government officials to undergo yearly gender sensitivity seminars, “and to adopt measures to eliminate prejudices and customary practices that are anchored on the idea of the inferiority of either of the sexes or their stereotypical roles.”
The CHR also recommended that the Commission on Elections institute a code of conduct for candidates and political parties to adhere to gender-sensitive language and conduct during campaigns.
The Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education and schools should “incorporate gender mainstreaming and gender sensitivity education in their curricula in order to foster a culture of respect for the rights of women,” the CHR resolution added.
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