[Statement] Women Call to Stop the Bombings in Marawi, Revoke Martial Law in Mindanao, as both Aggravate Violence Against Women

Women Call to Stop the Bombings in Marawi,
Revoke Martial Law in Mindanao, as both Aggravate Violence Against Women

Photo by World March of Women

June 3, the World March of Women calls for 24 Hours of Feminist Solidarity Action around the world for peace.

Women leaders from the World March of Women, Kaisa Ka, SENTRO, Focus on the Global South, Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights), Center for Migrant Advocacy, Batis – AWARE, WomanHealth Phils., Coalition Against Trafficking In Women – Asia Pacific (CATW-AP), and Bagong Kamalayan staged tableaus this morning at Plaza Miranda to dramatize the impact of wars and militarism. They called for truth about what’s happening in Marawi and Mindanao to come out and for perpetrators of violence to be pursued, and not find excuses in these events to declare Martial Law.

Around 130 persons have been killed, thousands trapped, in Marawi City and tens of thousands more displaced following a botched military operation to capture Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon. Martial Law was declared all over Mindanao, and President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly warned about expanding it to the rest of the country.

“Martial Law is never the answer as we have seen its horrors for decades in the past,” according to Jean Enriquez, Philippine Coordinator of the World March of Women – Marche Mondiale des Femmes – Marcha Mundial Mujeres. “Already, vulnerable Moro populations in Davao who do not have birth certificates nor identification cards, have been rounded up following the declaration of Martial Law,” added Enriquez.

“The real possibility of a state of martial law being utilized for counter-insurgency and the suppression of civil liberties, including workers’ and trade union rights, is a well-founded fear of our people due to our two-decade experience of dictatorship under Marcos,” said Mary Jane Mora Labongray, SENTRO-Women Coordinator.

Virginia Lacsa Suarez, President of Kaisa Ka, strongly criticized the President for his rape remark. “The Commander-in-Chief even exhorted and cajoled soldiers to exercise their martial law powers, assuring them that he would answer for those who may be accused of committing abuses and other crimes, including rape,” said Lacsa.

The group reminded the public how wars and militarism have always targeted the bodies of the sexually objectified and those considered to be most vulnerable—the women. Thus prostitution, rape, forced migration, and all forms of violence against women are multiplied exponentially as bodies of women are considered to be weapons of war against perceived enemies.

“Martial Law aggravates the vulnerability of Lumads, Muslims to different forms of discrimination and violence,” added Judy Afan Pasimio of Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights).

The group also scored super power nations that produce armaments and sell to countries where they have strong economic interests. “The Trump government is further boosting its war industry, is urging NATO countries and his allies in Asia to raise their military budgets and to join him in more wars against what they consider as primary threats to global security,” Lacsa added.

“Before the existence of Martial Law gets normalized; before violation of human rights, which is one of the first casualties under this situation, become more rampant and intensify, we must give all our efforts toward resisting all these attempts solidify again authoritarianism in our country,” remarked Clarissa Villasin Militante of Focus On The Global South.

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