MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) on Sunday, May 24, expressed alarm over what it regarded as a “sexist” image on the front page of the national broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI).
A full body image of the winner of the 2015 Miss Bikini Philippines in a bikini occupied around a third of the major daily’s May 23 front page, with her body twisted in a half-turn and one of her hands seemingly cupped near her pelvic’s posterior.
Senator Pia Cayetano also took issue over the depiction of the woman, saying it was “clearly meant to be provocative.”
PDI was a media partner of the bikini pageant.
“The angle and the pose of the woman in the photo depict commodification of women’s bodies,” said PCW Executive Director Emmeline Verzosa.
“That the broadsheet blurred the image of her hand on her private part drew more attention and curiosity to the photo,” Verzosa added.
PCW is the government’s policymaking and oversight agency for gender equality and women’s empowerment under the Office of the President.
Echoing PCW’s concerns, Cayetano doubted if the point of the photo was to promote health and fitness as a lifestyle, the objective of the bikini pageant. The chairperson of the Senate committee on women, family relations and gender equality, Cayetano is a women’s advocate, and also a triathlete and sports buff.
“There are many ways to show off a woman’s body in terms of fitness, health and beauty, but to use a photo in a manner that is sexual in orientation, is a degradation and commodification of women,” the senator said.
The photo of the pageant winner is laid out beside news items on the South China Sea maritime dispute, a running corruption story on Vice President Jejomar Binay, and an update on the country’s economic growth, among others.
No accompanying text story to the photo on the bikini tournament was published on the May 23 PDI front page.
Verzosa questioned if Inquirer needed “the sexist and sexual portrayal of the young woman” to “increase sales.”
“That is selling women’s bodies. Women’s dignity and bodily integrity should be upheld and presenting them as sexual objects violates the Magna Carta of Women,” she said.
PCW cited Section 19 of the RA 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women Implementing Rules and Regulations, which the agency said prohibits “the portrayal of women in a discriminatory, demeaning and/or derogatory manner.”
Cayetano said she was shocked and dismayed given PDI’s claim of being the “top choice of 52.7% of ABC newspaper readers.”
“With such high readership, PDI also has the responsibility to uphold the highest standards of journalism, including gender sensitivity,” she said.
She also expressed confidence that “the PDI editors will rectify this error,” as it has “over the years been a strong supporter of women’s issues.”
On its Twitter account, the PDI said it is already relaying the issue to its Readers’ Advocate.
@OfficialSenPia @piacayetano @PCWgovph Thanks for the feedback. Relaying to Readers’ Advocate @NenyP— Phil. Daily Inquirer (@Team_Inquirer) May 24, 2015
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