Over 1,000 women rights advocates from 100 organizations and schools gathered in La Madre Filipina statue at Rizal Park, Manila on Friday, International Women's Day, to call out anti-women acts they say are encouraged by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Wearing white or purple, the women and men chanted, "Tama na ang kabastusan! Tama na ang abuso! Sulong ang kababaihan!"
In an interview, Marielle Rugas, the convener for Girls For Peace, said that despite the varying political affiliations, the women's organizations such as Akbayan Women and Gabriela, as well as EveryWoman, One Billion Rising, St. Scholastica's College, among others, had all united to protest against the growing misogyny and sexism in the country.
According to Teresita Deles, former presidential peace adviser who was behind the event, the spotlight should be put on the women who are now asserting their rights and claiming their space.
"These times are particularly dangerous for women because the misogyny is being led by the highest official of the land," she told GMA News Online in an interview, describing the event as "unprecedented."
Activist Mae Paner, also known as Juana Change, said the groups united to call on the president to respect women.
Duterte has earned the ire of human rights and women's advocates due to controversial acts and remarks that included rape jokes, a suggestion that female rebels ought to be shot in the vagina, and even a public kiss on a married Filipina in Korea. He has also said that while he believed in women's competence, he thought some jobs are not meant for them.
Malacañang has repeatedly downplayed the president's statements and actions.
Deles said women's groups aim to make Duterte's supposedly anti-women acts an election issue. "Tama na ang kabastusan. 'Wag na tayo bumoto ulit ng mambabastos sa atin," she said.
According to One Billion Rising, one out of three women will experience harassment in her lifetime, and with over seven billion people in the world right now, that equates to a total of one billion victims.
The Gariela party also said that every 72 minutes, a woman or a child is raped in this country.
In a statement, the women's groups said they "stand arm-in-arm against the growing, alarming threats to our safety, dignity and the future of our children."
"We are fed up with the insults to and degradation of our dignity as women," they said. "In homes and on the streets, in schools, farms and factories---we are perpetual targets of taunts, sexual violence and other forms of abuse against our bodies, hearts, minds, our humanity."
"On this International Day of Women, we say, “enough"! Enough of the centuries of
women’s oppression. Enough of the misogyny of this current administration," they added. —LDF, GMA News