As a complement to the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law 23 years ago, Senator Risa Hontiveros filed a bill penalizing gender-based and street harassments on Tuesday.
Unlike the previous law which only applies to workplace and superior-subordinate harassment, the Senate Bill 1326 called the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017 is set to charge criminal case against people who “catcall, wolf-whistle, curse, leer, grope, persistently request for name and contact details and use words tending to ridicule on the basis of actual or perceived sex, gender expression, or sexual orientation and identity including sexist, homophobic and transphobic slurs in public spaces”.
Hontiveros, who is the chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, explained that this bill if passed, will not only be limited to women but also to the members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and men.
According to data, women are the most at risk of this harassment. In fact, a report from Social Weather Station (SWS) showed nine out of ten women ranging from 18 to 24 years old have experienced different forms of these harassments in the streets, while in Quezon City, three in five women become victims.
The senator also shared that more and more come to their office to file a complaint about harassment and the victims are as young as an elementary student.
“One may think it is a compliment to catcall, or to leer, but such unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a person in a public space is actually sexist and offensive.”
Hontiveros also said that it is high time that the law punish those perpetrators especially now that people are developing a mindset of “victim shaming” wherein the offender’s wrongdoings are accepted to serve the victim right.
The bill states that the gravest offense will face one to six months imprisonment and a fine of P10,000. It will also permit the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the local units of Philippine National Police to seize who commit this misdeed. -AGA