Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte has urged his security forces to shoot female communist rebels in their genitals as part of his crackdown on violent uprisings in the country.
Speaking to a group of former communist militants, Duterte warned that his soldiers will target women “in the vagina” rather than killing them.
“Tell the soldiers, ‘There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,’” he said. “If there is no vagina, it would be useless.”
Duterte started his offensive against the nation’s Communist Party and the New People’s Army (NPA)—both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations—last November after peace talks with the group collapsed. The Presidential Communications Office included his remarks in an official transcript of the event, but deleted the word “vagina” and replaced it with a dash.
“Duterte (sic) latest nasty remark openly encourages violence against women, contributes to the impunity on such, and further confirms himself as the most dangerous macho-fascist in the government right now,” said a representative for Gabriela, a feminist organization, in a statement.
“He is pushing the fascist AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to commit more bloody human rights violations and grave abuses of international humanitarian law, and takes state terrorism against women and the people to a whole new level,” they continued.
Carlos Conde, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, also described it as “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,” the statement added.
These statements did not address the track record of the terrorist group Duterte was railing against. The Communist Party and NPA have been active since 1968, killing police, soldiers, and officials through guerilla tactics and bombings. They have also forced businesses into paying “taxes” to them to fund their violence and killed those who refused to agree to their terms. It is a Maoist group particularly opposed to the United States and seeking to trigger a violent revolution in the country.
Duterte attempted to broker a peace deal with the communists that fell through when they insisted on continuing to kill Philippine police. Following the fall of the Islamic State in Marawi, Duterte turned his attention towards the NPA.
Last May, Duterte also appeared to suggest that his soldiers were able to rape women with impunity, and also joked about a 1989 prison riot where an Australian missionary was gang-raped and killed, stating that the “mayor should have been first” to have sex with her (Duterte was the mayor at the time).
As well as condemnation for his often crude and violent remarks, international organizations have become increasingly concerned over growing evidence that Duterte’s forces have engaged in repeated human rights abuses as part of the wider crackdown on communists, drug dealers, and the Islamic State that has already left 7,000 people dead.
Duterte has previously declared martial law in parts of the country and told his soldiers to “spare no one” in the process.
Before President Donald Trump’s visit to the Philippines, Duterte also asked him to “lay off” comments about the human rights situation, having cut the human rights agency’s budget to just $20 a year.