Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was slammed for encouraging violence against women when he said female rebels should be shot in the genitals. Picture: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

Manila - Rights groups on Monday slammed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for encouraging violence against women when he said soldiers should shoot female rebels in their genitals.

Duterte made the remarks last Wednesday during a meeting with more than 200 former communist rebels who have surrendered, including 48 women.

In his speech, Duterte talked about female fighters and said that soldiers should "shoot their vaginas" because "without that, they are useless."

Read more: Shoot female rebels in their vaginas, Duterte tells soldiers

Representative Emmi De Jesus of the Gabriela Women's Party said the remarks only confirm that Duterte is "the most dangerous macho-fascist in the government right now."

"He is dangerously pushing the fascist armed forces of the Philippines to commit more bloody human rights violations and grave abuses of international humanitarian law," she said.

"He has further presented himself as the epitome of misogyny and fascism terribly rolled into one," she added.

New York-based Human Rights Watch noted it was not the first time that Duterte has made "misogynist, derogatory and demeaning statements" about women.

"It encourages state forces to commit sexual violence during armed conflict, which is a violation of international humanitarian law," it said.

Last month, Duterte came under fire for saying he would offer 42 virgins to attract tourists to visit the country.

In May last year, he told soldiers he would protect them against criminal charges even if they rape three women while implementing martial law in the southern region of Mindanao.