Gender-based violence ‘never’ the victim’s fault, Duterte tells Asean
MANILA, Philippines — For President Rodrigo Duterte, all forms of gender-based violence are “never” the victim’s fault but of the perpetrator’s alone.
Duterte made this remark before regional leaders during the 36th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit’s special session on women’s empowerment in the digital age.
“We have to make cyberspace a safe place for women to connect, learn, and innovate. All forms of gender-based violence and abuse are abhorrent. They are wrong in the virtual world as they are in the real world. And they are never the victim’s fault but that of the perpetrator alone,” Duterte said during the online meet, as quoted in a Palace statement.
The President also called for a “gender-responsive recovery plan” as he admitted that there are still “structures and practices in society that perpetuate the discrimination against and oppression of women.”
Duterte added that structures of inequality, biases, and stereotypes against women are “social inventions.”
“We must fully acknowledge these realities so we can unlearn them and tear down everything that has held back women and our societies for ages. This is a humbling realization,” Duterte said.
Duterte said the region must underscore the need to “ensure more women’s active participation as we go into the new normal.”
He likewise told leaders “that giving women control and access to digital technology” is “an important tool for women empowerment.” He said this “must be a priority.”
In the Philippines, a spike in cases of violence against women and children was recorded during the imposition of lockdowns nationwide.
Duterte, in his earlier report to Congress, said 1,945 cases of violence against women and 1,754 cases of violence against children were recorded by authorities from the start of lockdown in mid-March until June 4.
Meanwhile, Duterte also noted the progress in the promotion of Filipino women’s rights, saying that the “Philippines has closed 78% of its overall gender gap.”
The President further mentioned the laws enacted to improve “women’s access to health services, increase their economic and political participation, and ensure their safety and security.”
These include the Universal Health Care Act, Expanded Maternity Leave Law, Safe Streets, and Public Spaces Act, and the Organic Law for Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Several women leaders joined the online meeting, including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Viet Nam National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.
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