MANILA, Philippines – Activist group Akbayan Women slammed President Rodrigo Duterte after he joked about "42 virgins" as a "come-on" to visit the Philippines, during his visit to India.
In a statement on Saturday, January 27, Akbayan Women called the President an "international embarrassment" and said that he "has no respect for Filipino women."
Speaking to businessmen on his last day in India on Friday, January 26, Duterte joked that if Muslim extremists can lure followers with the promise of "42 virgins" in heaven, he would like to "attract" tourists to the Philippines with the same.
"Duterte dismisses Filipinas as mere goods for trade, that women are just sights for tourists," said Akbayan Women. "This insults millions of women who work hard to build our nation with honor only to be represented as virgin fodder for tourists by the President himself. This insults millions of overseas Filipino workers who have created a name in Filipino workmanship abroad."
They also said that his "deep hate" towards women "manifests in his repeated cycles of sexism." Duterte has a history of making sexist jokes and remarks about women. (RELATED: Accused of sexism, Duterte vows to fight for women's rights)
His joke in India, the group added, was "extremely worrying," saying that it "reinforces the culture of sexualization – treating women as sexual objects, devoid of dignity and human rights."
"We deserve a president who can represent Filipinos: men, women, and LGBT alike abroad. We deserve a president who has a regard for women's rights and dignity," the group said.
Akbayan Women encouraged Filipinos of all genders to "resist all sexist actions that threaten our democracy and human rights."
"Let us show the world that we don't lie back when assaulted with violent, sexist language by those in power – we fight it! We can only win a free, fair, and just world when we stand for each other," said the group.