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Women’s group demands Duterte apology for ‘rape joke’

Women’s group, Gabriela, on Sunday demanded presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte to issue an immediate apology after firing out a joke on a rape victim.

MANILA, Philippines – Women’s group Gabriela, on Sunday, demanded an immediate apology from presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte for making jokes about a rape victim.

“Mayor Rodrigo Duterte should immediately apologize for his statements making fun of rape,” Gabriela’s statement, which it issued on social media, read.

On Saturday, YouTube user “Beatboxer Ng Pinas” posted a minute-long video of Duterte with the title “Duterte on Australian Rape Victim: Napaka Ganda. Dapat Mayor ang Mauna", where the mayor was seen speaking at a  political rally and telling a story about  an operation against criminals who raped a number of women. This was part of the live video recording captured by CinEmotion Digital Films and posted on Facebook but that has since been deleted.

In his speech, Duterte said he was irked as one of the victims, an Australian lay minister whom he likened to a beautiful American actress, was raped and joked that the mayor (Duterte) should "have been first."

The audience during the rally was heard laughing due to the mayor’s joke which earned several criticisms from netizens and raised issues concerning rape culture becoming a “laughing matter.”

Netizens who found Duterte's joke "disgusting and offensive" slammed the mayor for going too far. 

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Gabriela stressed that rape is a serious crime not just against women but also against humanity.

“Rape, or any form of sexual abuse is not a joke nor something to be trivialized in a joke, especially by a public official and most especially by those aspiring for the highest post in the land,” the group said.

The group not only demanded an apology from Duterte but also challenged him to use his campaign to promote women’s and family rights.

“We also challenge him to use his campaign to promote issues that will elevate the condition of women and their families,” the group said.

In June 2015, Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan expressed support for Duterte saying the mayor is a strong leader that the country needs citing his “brand of leadership that uplifted gender rights in the country.” She said Duterte implemented a local version of the Reproductive Health Bill even before it was legislated nationally.

Ilagan, a leader in the Womens’ Rights Movement in Davao City, is also seeking a post as councilor for the city's first district. She also served as Davao City councilor from 1998 to 2001.

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