To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, women with painted faces and bodies performed a warrior dance at noon today in Quezon City. Filling the streets around the World Scout Jamboree roundabout in Timog, the women denounced the violenceof the current administration, and the institutional violence that “kills” 14 women each day they are deprived of reproductive health services by the state.
According to the women, the Duterte administration’s violence include the drug-war killings, the killing of democracy through patronage of the Marcos burial at the heroes’ cemetery and sponsorship of the Marcos’s return to power, promotion of death penalty, criminalization of child delinquents, non-implementation of the Reproductive Health Law, and sexist attacks on women’s dignity.
“The spate of state-sanctioned killings exacerbated the trauma in women already reeling from impoverishment,” said Clarissa Militante, one of the leaders of World March of Women (WMW) and Focus on the Global South. Both groups are members of iDefend, a human rights network calling for a stop to the killings. According to iDefend, the number has reached over 5,000 and victimized are mostly poor families, leaving women widowed and children fatherless. Human rights groups are now overburdened with responding to psycho-social and legal needs of the families of survivors. “The encouragement of the killings by the President himself emboldened the police to directly take lives, as well as persecute women leaders who dare challenge this policy,” added Militante. She noted that the first human rights defender killed under the current administration is a woman environmental rights advocate, Gloria Capitan.
“The state’s facilitation of dictator Marcos’s burial similarly opened wounds in rape and torture victims among women, and those left behind by the disappeared during Martial Law,” according to Nilda Lagman-Sevilla, Co-Chair of the Familiies of Victims of Involuntary Disappearances (FIND). Ka Nilda’s brother, a human rights lawyer who vanished in 1977, is among the 882 desaparecidos under Martial Law. “President Duterte himself should account for this mistake, rectify it, and stop resuscitating a deposed authoritarian power,” she added.
Now, women are being abused online when identified to be protesting against the Marcos burial or critiquing the Duterte administration. It should be remembered that WMW leaders charged the current President with violation of the Magna Carta of Women and promotion of rape culture. Now, the same sexism is being perpetrated by legislators against Senator Leila De Lima, as well as by Marcos and Duterte followers against protesters, according to Jean Enriquez of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW-AP), WMW and iDefend. “Sexual harassment, sexist cyberbullying and rape cases brought to our attention rose in number with the coming to power of Duterte, bringing along Marcos with him,” said Enriquez. However, the women refuse to be cowed.
“We draw strength from our women ancestors who have resisted our subjugation as a people,” stated Nice Coronacion, leader of the youth section of the labour center SENTRO. “We cannot allow the resurgence of a terror state, and we are rising in defiance,” Coronacion added.
“The women vowed to fight for their rights to reproductive freedom, a life of dignity, and a safe and violence-free world for women and their families,” said Ana Maria Nemenzo of WomanHealth.
The women leaders underscored that the recent days after the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani showed that silence and spread of lies which marked the entry to power of Pres. Duterte and re-emergence of the Marcoses, is now being countered by intelligent and truthful narratives, calls for justice and reason from human rights defenders and coming especially from young people in protest actions.
Also leading the symbolic dance as “Pintadas” were women from the Center for Migrant Advocacy, Foundation for Media Alternatives, Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), SARILAYA, WomanHealth, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Idefend, Block Marcos, Coalition Against the Marcos Burial at LNMB (CAMB-LNMB), and individual women who heeded the call for the action online.
Those who were not able to come to the action painted their faces and posted selfies with hashtags #EndVAW, #WomenRising, #StopTheKillingsPh, #BlockMarcos and #Hukayin.