By Claire Zillman
October 11, 2016

Slut-shaming a political opponent? It’s the latest antic associated with controversial Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who once joked about a murdered rape victim and called President Barack Obama an obscene name.

A story in Newsweek details how it all transpired. Senator Leila de Lima had launched hearings into Duterte’s ruthless crackdown on drug users and last month summoned a self-professed hitman to testify that Duterte had ordered death squads to kill addicts during his stint as a city mayor. That marked an escalation of the Duterte-de Lima feud that caused the president’s loyalists in the lower legislature to threaten to show a sex tape purportedly featuring de Lima and her married chauffeur, with whom de Lima admits having a relationship.

De Lima says she’s not sure if there is such a tape, but maintains that Duterte is trying to destroy her “at any cost.”

The slut-shaming approach—in which women are mocked for their sexual pasts but promiscuous men are praised—is indicative of how women are treated in the Philippines, says one observer, and it shows just how far Duterte and his supporters will go to muzzle dissenters. If that’s the case, then the response of women in the country was especially extraordinary. Female senators from different parties filed a resolution to denounce the planned showing of the alleged tape, and female users on Twitter and Facebook rallied behind the hashtag #EveryWoman to claim it was them, not de Lima, in the video. The actions caused lawmakers to back away from their threat to show the film and some are now expressing doubts that it even exists.


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