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Philippine police anti-rape post draws flak

Women's rights activists up in arms over a campaign that advises women not to wear revealing clothes

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Philippine police anti-rape post draws flak

Lawmaker Risa Hontiveros said a police social media post about rape was insensitive. (Photo: Unsplash)

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Police in the Philippines have come under fire over a social media post advising women not to wear revealing clothes to avoid being raped

Lucban police station in Quezon province just south of Manila posted the public advisory on June 11 as part of a campaign to end violence against women.

“Love women and don’t abuse their kindness. Girls, don’t wear short clothes then report to us [police officers] when you’re harassed. Consider that,” said the post.

The post has drawn condemnation from church and civil society groups who called it demeaning and in poor taste.

Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan, a prominent women’s rights activist, said rape should not be the subject of any joke as it is a sensitive issue that society should abhor, not even to be tolerated in terms of jokes.

“Rape is a crime against the honor of women. We must teach men not to rape instead of teaching women what to wear in order not get raped,” she said in a statement.

“Don’t blame the victim. The blame is totally on the rapist because he is the predator.”

Lawmaker Risa Hontiveros said the social media post is insensitive and uncalled for.

“Girls and women do not report sex crimes precisely because of the tendency to blame victims. Let’s retire this way of thinking,” said Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

Women’s rights group Gabriela, of which Sister Mary John served as chairwoman for 18 years, also condemned the post, calling it “lewd” and “grossly inappropriate.”

“Public officials should at all times be accountable to the people and shall discharge their duties with utmost responsibility and respect. Where is respect in that post?” said Marinela De Guzman, a spokeswoman for the group.

The Philippine National Police responded to the backlash, saying it would investigate who was responsible for the post.

The police post was not the first-time government and law enforcement officials have been criticized for making inappropriate comments about rape and for blaming victims of rape and sexual harassment.

In January 2016, police at another police station posted 10 rape prevention tips for men that included advising potential rapists to carry a whistle.

“Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to rape someone, blow the whistle until someone comes to stop you,” one tip said.

President Rodrigo Duterte has come under fire from women’s and human rights groups for cracking rape jokes in speeches or interviews.

In 2016, he drew flack for comments about the 1989 rape and murder of an Australian missionary during a prison siege in Davao, in which he joked he should have been first in line to rape her.

During a 2018 speech in the central Philippine city of Mandaue, the president suggested that beautiful women made rape inevitable as he defended his anti-crime record while he was mayor of Davao in Mindanao.

“As long as there are many beautiful women, there will be more rape cases,” he said in comments about a high number of rape cases in the city.

Duterte, who has often been accused of misogyny by women's rights activists, also joked on national television in 2018 that he gave an order to the armed forces to shoot female rebels in the vagina.

“There is a new order [from the president]. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina, so that if there is no vagina, it would be useless,” Duterte said.

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