Philippines president Duterte calls women ‘b****es’ and ‘crazy’ in speech at gender equality event

Harry Cockburn
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Philippines president Duterte calls women ‘b****es’ and ‘crazy’ in speech at gender equality event

Speaking to an almost exclusively female audience of police and army staff, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte called them “bitches” and “crazy women”, who he said were “depriving me of my freedom of expression”.

At the event on Monday, which was being held to celebrate outstanding women in law enforcement and the national security of the Philippines, Mr Duterte began by saying in English: “Puta (bitches), you know you women are depriving me of my freedom of expression. You criticise every sentence or word I say, but that is my freedom to express myself.”

He said his remarks were designed to bring them “to the limits of despair”, after he was strongly criticised last week for warning women to stay away from Catholic priests who he said could “corner” them.

Mr Duterte has focused on the Catholic church which has been critical of his bloody war on drugs, in which over 5,000 are believed to have been killed. He has singled out priests and last year offered to resign if anyone could prove god exists.

Last week he said: “The women should refrain from going near the priests because when you are near him, he will just smell the scent of your body.

“And if he corners you in the church, you're in trouble, he will court you.

“Do you know why? It's because he is a man. God gave him a penis. What will they do with that?

“Will they slap it against the door every morning? God was the one who made a mistake there, not us,” he said.

But on Monday Mr Duterte also told the crowd he loved women. “I love women,” he said. “That’s why you see I have two wives. That means I like women.”

The country’s left-leaning Gabriela Women's Party described Mr Duterte as a “macho-fascist president [who] would be the last person who could give decent advice on how women can stay away from or fight abuse".

Mr Duterte’s verbal attack is the latest in a long list of misogynistic statements. Last year he told soldiers to shoot female communist rebels in the vagina.

“Tell the soldiers there's a new order coming from the mayor. We won't kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,” he said.

And while running for office in 2016, he said of a 1989 Australian gang-rape victim: “I was angry because she was raped, that's one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste.”

Despite his aggressive sexism and violent crackdowns on drugs, the president’s popularity is sky high.

Public satisfaction with the performance of Mr Duterte’s government rose in December to the highest level on record since one of the country’s top pollsters started conducting opinion surveys in 1980s, Reuters reported in January.