Rebuilding Lives Amid the Ruins of Duterte’s War on Drugs

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Aileen May P. Mijares


President Duterte’s War on Drugs in the Philippines, locally known as tokhang(summary killings) has been widely criticized, with civil society and human rights groups, as well as Western democracies and international groups like Amnesty International, condemning its brutality and impunity. There has been uproar over the ruthless killings of suspected drug ‘addicts’ who were mostly male, from urban poor communities. The paper looks at the class and gendered dimensions of the drug war using a feminist frame. It examines in particular the experiences of left-behind women of tokhang victims, and how their victimization consequently affects their political agency. The paper utilizes women’s testimonies and their significance in breaking the culture of fear and silence. These testimonies are also important in raising consciousness and building solidarity among victims of state violence, as well as appealing for collective action against state violence. These testimonies also reveal challenges women face as they confront state violence, literally executed by male state agents. This paper shows the asymmetries of power between State and its victims and brings to light the ways in which women in solidarity with civil society organizations are rebuilding their lives amid the ruins of Duterte’s war on drugs.

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May P. Mijares, A. (2020). Rebuilding Lives Amid the Ruins of Duterte’s War on Drugs. Journal of Human Rights and Peace Studies, 6(2), 255–282. Retrieved from
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