Maria Ressa speaks at the European Union

On October 28, 2020, Maria Ressa, co-founder and CEO of rappler.com spoke at a joint meeting of the EU Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) and EU Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) (starting minute 10:34) about the situation for women since president Duterte took power. “I have never lived through such a breakdown of women’s rights and human rights as that we are living through right now” she says. She emphasizes that the growing impact of social media and the way divisive leaders use this power makes her worry about the future. With facebook having become the largest distributor of news in the Philippines, it is hard to know what’s a fact and what isn’t. “You say a lie a million times and it becomes a fact” she emphasises. The technology that once has been an enabler for movements like the Arab Spring is now being turned into an instrument for seeding attacks against anybody who is not in line the government. Ressa highlights that these attacks are targeted at women ten times more than men. “Women have never been as vulnerable as we are today.” So especially those on the front lines like journalists, human rights activists, opposition politicians are facing constant threats and defamation.

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