Human rights groups have criticised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for reportedly ordering his troops to shoot female rebels in the genitals to leave them “useless”, AP reported. The statement may encourage sexual violence and war crimes, the groups said.

The controversial leader made the comment while addressing a group of former communist leaders on February 7. “Tell the soldiers. There’s a new order coming from the mayor,” The Independent quoted Duterte as saying. “We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina.” His spokesperson dismissed Duterte’s comments as “funny”.

The president “has distinguished himself as a frothing-in-the-mouth fascist who incites the worst violations of international humanitarian law”, Left-wing rights group Karapatan said.

Human Rights Watch described Duterte’s comment as the latest in a “series of misogynist, derogatory and demeaning statements he has made about women”.