Addressing a group of former communist rebels, the Philippines president said his armed forces should not kill female rebels but shoot them in their genitals because without them they are useless.
“Tell the soldiers. There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,” Duterte reportedly said. “If there is no vagina, it would be useless."
An official government translation of the speech, given on Feb. 7, replaced the word vagina with a dash. The transcript says the audience laughed in response.
Since taking power in June 2016 Duterte has presided over a bloody war on drug dealers and users, killing thousands of people, many in vigilante-style executions with the president’s approval.
The International Criminal Court said last week it was opening preliminary examinations into the war on drugs. However, given the ICC’s preliminary examinations into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan took more than a decade, it's unlikely Duterte will face any immediate charges.
Duterte’s brief reign has been marked by a consistent stream of menacingly misogynistic comments.
In the past he has “joked” about raping an Australian missionary, made rape jokes about about Miss Universe, and told his soldiers they had permission to rape up to three women during conflict without being punished.
Last month in India, Duterte said he would like to attract more tourists to the Philippines by offering “42 virgins.”
Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, recently defended his boss’s misogyny, saying feminists were overreacting and that the remarks were meant as humor. “I mean, that's funny. Come on. Just laugh,” Roque said.
Unsurprisingly, the president’s recent comments have been widely criticized.
“Duterte's latest nasty remark openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further presented himself as the epitome of misogyny and fascism terribly rolled in one,” Emmi de Jesus, a member of Congress representing the Gabriela Women’s Party, said in a statement.
Human Rights Watch researcher Carlos Conde called the comments “the latest in a series of misogynist, derogatory, and demeaning statements he has made about women.”
“It encourages state forces to commit sexual violence during armed conflict, which is a violation of international humanitarian law,” he added.
Cover image: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends the orchid-naming ceremony at the National Orchid Garden on December 16, 2016, in Singapore. (Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)