An activist group has condemned Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for saying that he would like to entice visitors to his country with an offer of “42 virgins.”
According to Al Jazeera, Duterte was speaking to business leaders in India when he began discussing armed Muslim fighters in the embattled Philippine island of Mindanao. The rebels are “totally bankrupt,” Duterte said, and theorized that the “come-on is that if you die a martyr, you go to heaven with 42 virgins waiting for you.”
“Well, if I could just make it a come-on also for those who’d like to go to my country,” he joked.
The president also said that he would “like to have the virgins here, not in heaven. God may not allow it.”
As Rappler reports, the activist group Akbayan Women has released a statement harshly condemning Duterte, whom they referred to as an “international embarrassment.”
“Duterte dismisses Filipinas as mere goods for trade, that women are just sights for tourists,” the statement says. “This insults millions of women who work hard to build our nation with honor only to be represented as virgin fodder for tourists by the President himself. This insults millions of overseas Filipino workers who have created a name in Filipino workmanship abroad.”
It is not the first time that Duterte has made incendiary and degrading comments about women. In July of last year, he said that while he did not “like” child rape, he would congratulate someone who had the “balls” to “mess with” a Miss Universe. During his presidential campaign in 2016, he joked about the 1989 death of Australian missionary worker Jacqueline Hamill who was raped and killed by inmates during a prison riot in Davao.
“I was angry that she was raped,” Duterte said during an election rally. “But she was so beautiful. The mayor should have been the first. What a waste.”