Women from several indigenous communities marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Friday by, first, wearing purple masks, which they then took off to signify they were no longer afraid.
The indigenous women from communities in Quezon, Zambales, Aurora, Bulacan, and Pampanga marched to and held a program at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City.
“We experience violence on a daily basis – against our husbands, people from government agencies who refuse to attend to our needs, and those who grab our lands,” members of the Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK) said in a statement.
“We wear these purple masks as some of us are afraid to be seen in public protesting; but our desire to be part of this collective call to seek for accountability, and justice is strong,” they added.
“We are no longer afraid. Even if the government is threatening us who believe in human rights, who are fighting for our rights,” LILAK’s Judy Pasimio told GMA News Online.
The participants pulled off their masks and lit torches at the end of the program.
The protesters also claimed that said President Rodrigo Duterte emboldened men to objectify and disrespect women, as well as “encourage” killing and violence.
“For us indigenous women, we do not say the names of big influential people. But starting today, we should. We do – Duterte,” their statement said.
“So we urge other women to demand – stop violence against women. Respect women human rights. We urge everyone to resist Duterte’s acts of sowing fear and terror in our communities,” it added.
The indigenous women were joined by women’s groups LILAK, Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, iDEFEND, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Freedom from Debt Coalition-Women’s Committee, and Focus on the Global South.
The Philippine Movement from Climate Justice was also present to protest the light on large-scale mining operations in the Manicani Islands. — DVM, GMA News