Robredo: Rape exists because of rapists, not beautiful women

Mara Cepeda
Vice President Leni Robredo reminds President Rodrigo Duterte that rape is a serious matter and victims should not be blamed

WOMEN'S RIGHTS ADVOCATE. Vice President Leni Robredo holds a press conference on September 3, 2018. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo corrected President Rodrigo Duterte and told him rape exists because of rapists, not because of beautiful women. 

On Monday, September 3, Robredo was asked to react to the President’s statement that there is a high incidence of rape in his hometown Davao City because there are “many beautiful women” there.

“Merong rape kasi merong rapist. Hindi may rape dahil may magandang babae. Sineseryoso natin ito. ‘Di ito isang bagay na parang kibit-balikat lamang. ‘Di dapat pinaglalaruan ‘yung issue,” said Robredo, an advocate for women empowerment, in a chance intervew.

(Rape exists because of rapists. Rape is not caused by beautiful women. We are serious in dealing with this issue. It’s not something we can just shrug off. We shouldn’t make light of this issue.)

The Vice President, who was a human rights lawyer before joining politics, also condemned statements that pin the blame on women who are raped.

“Ako, ‘di lang bilang babae, pero bilang tao, kahit anuman na statement na kasalanan ng babae ‘yung rape, eh ‘di ‘yun nakakatawa. Kailangang iprotesta natin,” said Robredo. 

(Speaking not just as a woman but as a human being, I think any statement blaming a woman for getting raped is not funny. We have to protest against it.) 

Not a case of ‘freedom of speech’

In a speech in Israel on Monday, Duterte defended his recent rape remark, saying he was merely exercising his “freedom of expression.”

“Hindi ko naman sinabing rinape lahat ‘yan (I didn’t say all of them were raped)…. And this is democracy. Freedom of expression,” said the President.

But for Robredo, freedom of speech should not be used to disrespect women.

“‘Yung freedom of speech, parati ‘yung may limitasyon. Hindi dapat ito ginagamit para mambastos ng kahit sinuman. Hindi ‘to dapat ginagamit para i-disrespect ‘yung bawat Pilipina,” she said.

(Freedom of speech has its limits. It should not be used to disrespect anyone. It should not be used to disrespect Filipinas.)

In 2017, Duterte said he frowned upon child rape but joked that if the victim happened to be “Miss Universe,” he would even congratulate the rapist for committing the crime knowing he would “die,” apparently in the hands of a lynch mob.

Malacañang sees no problem with the President’s off-color remarks, saying these are part of his manner of speech and that the majority of Filipinos, “especially the masses,” understand his humor. – Rappler.com