′Misogynist′ Duterte slammed over sexual harassment law | News | DW | 16.07.2019
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'Misogynist' Duterte slammed over sexual harassment law

Rodrigo Duterte has approved a bill that penalizes catcalling, wolf-whistling and other forms of sexual harassment. Activists, who've dubbed the president "misogynist-in-chief," say they hope he'll comply with the law.

President Rodrigo Duterte faced heavy criticism from women's rights campaigners on Tuesday over a new law targeting acts of sexual harassment.

The legislation prohibits the repeated telling of sexual jokes, catcalling, sexist slurs, leering, wolf-whistling and intrusive gazing in public spaces – actions the Philippine president himself has been accused of on numerous occasions.

Duterte was "the single most brazen violator of the law's intent with his staple macho-fascist remarks," women's rights political party Gabriela said on Twitter. "Under this context, implementing the law will certainly be a challenge."

But the 74-year-old's supporters have welcomed the law as a step forward for women's rights.

Read more: Can anyone believe what Duterte says?

Wiping out 'rude culture'

The Safe Spaces Act was signed into law in April, but the text was only made public on Monday. Its author, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, said the bill's passage marked a "massive victory" against a growing "rude culture in our streets and communities."

Those caught exhibiting offensive behavior in public spaces, including streets, schools, offices and bars, could face a fine, community service or jail time.

Acts such as exposing private parts, groping, and brushing up against someone carry up to 6 months in prison and a fine of several hundred dollars.

Read moreUN rights body launches probe into Philippines drug war deaths

Watch video 26:01

Salvador Panelo on Conflict Zone

'Misogynist-in-chief'

Duterte himself has been known to drop sexist remarks and rape jokes into his public speeches.

Weeks before he was sworn in as president in 2016, he wolf-whistled a female reporter during a nationally broadcast press conference. He was also accused of abuse of power last year when he kissed a married Filipina woman on the lips in front of a large audience in South Korea.

He has publicly ordered Philippine troops to shoot female communist guerrillas in the vagina. And in 2016 he said he had wanted to rape a "beautiful" Australian missionary who had been sexually assaulted and killed in a Filipino jail.

Read morePhilippine youth losing faith in political system

Journalist and campaigner Inday Espina-Varona called Duterte "the misogynist-in-chief," and said that the anti-harassment law was long overdue. "It only rams home the truth: he believes himself above the law," she said.

Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo rejected the misogyny allegations and said the president would obey the law. 

"When he cracks jokes, it is intended to make people laugh, never to offend," Salvador Panelo told reporters. "You women should know that. Misogyny is different from making people laugh."

nm/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)

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