#BabaeAko campaign unites women in challenging sexist behaviour of Duterte
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#BabaeAko campaign unites women in challenging sexist behaviour of Duterte

WOMEN’S rights advocates in the Philippines have launched the #BabaeAko (I am a woman) campaign aimed at calling out the “anti-women” remarks and behaviour of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The campaign recently mobilised social media support after Duterte was criticised for kissing a married woman on the lips amidst the cheers of his supporters in a public function in Seoul, South Korea on June 3, 2018.

One aspect of the campaign encouraged women to post a video message addressed to Duterte followed by a pledge of “lalaban ako” (I will fight back).

SEE ALSO: Is it dangerous to be a woman in Duterte’s Philippines?

Government spokesmen have justified the “kissing scene” as a “light moment” that is “accepted in Filipino culture” while Duterte himself boasted that “we enjoyed it” and that critics “are just envious”.

To his critics, however, the event exhibited in full view Duterte’s notion of women as mere objects of desire and entertainment.

Duterte-Kiss-1

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte kisses Filipino overseas worker Bea Kim in Seoul, South Korea. June 3, 2018. Source: YouTube / Rappler

The #BabaeAko social media campaign was launched on May 20, 2018, shortly after Duterte made a statement that the next ombudsman should not be a woman. He has cursed UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, put opposition Senator Leila de Lima in jail, and ousted Chief Justice Lourdes Sereno from office, among others.

Callamard, De Lima, and Sereno are all vocal critics of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs that has, according to some estimates, already killed over 20,000 people.

Duterte is notorious for giving rape jokes in his official speeches, having catcalled a female reporter in a press conference, and even having ordered troops to shoot female communist rebels in the genitals.

SEE ALSO: Rappler boss says women are ‘holding the line’ in Philippine media

Below are some #BabaeAko posts on Facebook. This is by the Gabriela Women’s Party representative in Congress, Arlene Brosas:

I am a woman, Arlene Brosas, Gabriela Women’s Party representative in Congress. I am opposed to the macho, fascist, patriarchal, and feudal culture of the Duterte regime. I will fight back.

This is from a video by Judy Taguiwalo, a university professor and former cabinet member turned staunch critic of the Duterte administration:

I am a woman, Judy Taguiwalo, a patriotic teacher. I thought Duterte serves the Filipino people. It turns out he is subservient to [late dictator of the Philippines Ferdinand] Marcos, [former president of the Philippines] Gloria [Arroyo], [US President] Trump and China. For this just and free nation, I will fight back.

The next transcript is from a video by theater artist and activist Mae Paner, better known as Juana Change:

I am a woman, I am Juana Change, a patriotic artist. Through my art, I will continue to fight for truth and reason, justice and freedom, to the best of my ability. We will reckon with each other. I will fight back.

This is from a video by veteran journalist and press freedom advocate Inday Varona:

Babae ako, si Inday Espina Varona, isang lola. [I am a woman, Inday Varona, a grandmother.] I will not allow my grandchildren to grow up in a world without due process, where a President thinks of death and murder as the solution to social problems. Kaya lalaban ako. [Thus I will fight back.]

Here are some #BabaeAko posts on Twitter:

SEE ALSO: Philippines’ Duterte draws flak for calling God ‘stupid’

In response, officials at Malacañan Palace (the official residence of the president) threw shade at the #BabaeAko campaign, saying this was merely “politically-motivated” against the president.

Duterte then vowed to resign if “enough women” protest his controversial kiss. A #BabaeAko protest was held on Philippine Independence Day, June 12, in major cities in the country.