Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte joked that rapes will continue “as long as there are many beautiful women” during a Thursday night speech, The New York Times reports. Duterte was addressing the high number of sexual assaults in the city of Davao, where he once served as mayor. “They said there are many rape cases in Davao,” he said while speaking in the city of Mandaue. “As long as there are many beautiful women, there will be more rape cases.” In response, a coalition of women’s groups in the Philippines called #BabaeAko (I Am Woman) said that Duterte was adding “insult to the scars of rape survivors” rather than solving the problem. “Duterte sees women’s sexuality as their sole reason of existence [...] We call on all Filipinos to rise up against a President who spits on everything our ancestors fought and died for,” they said in a statement. A spokesperson for Duterte told the Times that the president’s remark was a “joke,” claiming that the southern town of Davao has a “more liberal” definition of what was considered offensive. The Philippine National Police recently announced that Davao had the highest rape rates in the nation, with 42 rapes occurring between April and June. This comes after Duterte called his own daughter a “drama queen” after she admitted to being a sexual-assault victim.
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