In addition to saying he "should have been first" to assault a "beautiful" rape victim, Rodrigo Duterte once told soldiers he'd protect them if they raped women. His misogynistic rhetoric only continued with comments last week, drawing outrage even as a spokesman claims the Philippine president shouldn't be taken literally, per Reuters. In a Feb. 7 speech now gaining attention, Duterte said he'd ordered soldiers to shoot female Maoist rebels while mayor of Davao City—only the order was a bit more specific than that, reports the New York Times. "Tell the soldiers, 'There's a new order … We will not kill you. We will just shoot you in the vagina,'" Duterte said. The women would be "useless" without vaginas, he added, though "vagina" was erased from the official transcript of the speech delivered to 200 former communist soldiers, per the Guardian.
Calling Duterte "the epitome of misogyny and fascism," Emmi de Jesus of the Gabriela Women's Party says the comment "takes state terrorism against women and the people to a whole new level." Carlos H. Conde of Human Rights Watch adds it "encourages state forces to commit sexual violence during armed conflict." But spokesman Harry Roque suggests Duterte was only joking and says he views women's welfare as a priority. "Sometimes, these feminists are really a bit [overreacting]. I mean, that's funny. Come on. Just laugh," he said, per the Guardian. The outlet notes Duterte also discussed women after the International Criminal Court began investigating him for crimes against humanity last week, noting he didn't mind being imprisoned if it meant conjugal visits by more than one woman. (More on the investigation here.)