War is devastating to livelihoods, communities, the environment and, even more so, for women.
During times of unrest, women's bodies often become targets of horrendous violence and are reduced to war spoils, with no agency of their own, that the victorious men can claim. It is with this knowledge of the ravages of war that Philippines President Duterte's latest comments on the matter sound terrifying .
In the aftermath of ISIS declaring a "wide-scale offensive on positions of Philippine troops in the city of Marawi," Duterte launched a full scale attack against the militant group and encouraged his troops to be unrestrained in their ruthlessness.
During an event, he also "joked" that under the martial law he imposed, the soldiers could even rape without consequences.
"The consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I, and I alone, would be responsible. Just do your jobs, I'll take care of the rest," he told his soldiers during a trip to Iligan City. "If you rape three people, I will admit that I did it."
Ironically, the crass comment came just after he warned his military against any human rights violations.
By assuring them that consequences do not exist, and there will be no punitive actions, Duterte is effectively egging his men on to rape.
This is not the first time the foul-mouthed leader has made light of this subject.
During his electoral campaign in 2016, the president referred to the 1989 rape and murder of Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill who was taken hostage during her visit to a jail in Davao City, where Duterte was the mayor at that time.
"I was angry she was raped, yes that was one thing. But she was so beautiful, I think the mayor should have been first. What a waste," he quipped.
He later apologized for his comments.
The firebrand leader, who assumed office last year in June, has been accused of committing several human rights violations, including encouraging extrajudicial killings in his country under the auspice of war on drugs — an epidemic that has claimed thousands of lives, including those of children as young as 9.
I think Duterte should refrain from making rape jokes. It's not funny, it's disgusting. Psychopaths within the ranks of military might do it— ilda (@ilda_talk) May 27, 2017
Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, also took to Twitter to slam Duterte, calling him a "murderous thug with no regard of human rights."
Not funny. Ever. https://t.co/XUIo85noBQ— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) May 26, 2017
There have been violent clashes between Filipino troops and ISIS in the past few days.
According to a government spokesperson, ISIS militants took over several government buildings in Marawi, and set to fire many others, including a church, a school and the city jail.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters