Senator Leila M. de Lima has supported United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Ending Violence Against Women Dubravka Šimonović’s call for the Philippine government to protect Filipino women in politics against any forms of abuse, harassment and violence perpetrated by influential leaders.
De Lima also thanked Šimonović for expressing grave concern over her plight as a prisoner of conscience under the Duterte regime by including the Senator among the public officials in the country who she believes need protection against verbal abuse and attacks.
“I fully support the call of UN expert Dubravka Šimonović on Philippine government to protect women leaders in the country who are on the receiving end of attacks simply because they refused to be cowed by despotism,” she said.
“I am grateful for Ms. Šimonović for stressing the importance of respecting the role women leaders like me play in the society and valuing the State’s obligations under the international law to protect us against any forms of abuses,” she added.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte administration, has been named by the Amnesty International as one of the notable women human rights defenders under threat.
Based on media reports, Šimonović recently highlighted in a press conference in Thailand about the country’s obligations under international law to protect Filipino women in politics from verbal attacks coming from Mr. Duterte and his allies when she was asked by the press to comment about their plight under the Duterte regime.
Šimonović reportedly said that De Lima, the staunchest critic of the present administration’s all-out war on drugs, is among the Filipino women in government who is receiving degrading statements from the President and other local officials.
“Under international obligations, all persons in their respective roles should be protected against such types of verbal abuse and attacks that are coming with respect to their specific role,” Šimonović said.
The lady Senator from Bicol reiterated that the rise of “strong men” like Mr. Duterte who promotes sexism should be an eye-opener for Filipinos to continue empowering women to defeat the culture of misogyny.
“Let’s not allow officials like Mr. Duterte, who views women as a force that threatens his hold on power, to continue bullying us. Let us stand and fight for the dignity of women and respect for everyone,” she said.
De Lima, a known human rights and social justice champion here and abroad, recently underscored the need to push back harder in rejecting the misogyny of those in positions of power to guarantee the protection of women’s rights at all times.