“Hi, miss!” “Psst, ganda!” and “Sexy mo naman,” are what we, women, and the members of the LGBT community of the Philippines have to (unfortunately) hear from random strangers when passing by public places.
These squeamish lines that we hear may seem like nothing to our perpetrators. To them, they brush it off as an “expression of admiration”, but to us, it’s traumatizing, threatening, and embarrassing.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who is a woman and human rights advocate, was the author of the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Bill Act of 2017. The Senate passed S.B 1326 to its third and final reading yesterday.
Hopefully, all the women and the members of the LGBT will soon have safe streets and public places. Cat-calling and street harassment is now penalized in the whole country.
In S.B 1326, it states that wolf-whistling, catcalling, lascivious language, stalking, rubbing or touching, indecent gestures, exhibitionism, and public masturbation calls for penalization among perpetrators.
These incidents are reported to be happening in streets, small alleys, as well as in public vehicles, public washrooms, schools, and workplaces.
This bill aims to end sexism and misogyny in society. According to Sen. Risa Hontiveros, she wishes that the bill will change people’s language habits. To prevent different forms of gender-based harassment and convince the public of gender-sensitive expression by penalizing disrespectful actions.
The bill is divided into three corresponding kinds of violations and penalty.
1. Light Violations
These violations include cursing, wolf-whistling, cat-calling, leering, persistent requests for personal information, use of ridicule words directing to sexist, homophobic, and transphobic slurs, or the persistent telling of sexual jokes.
The first offense is fined with P1,000 or 8 hours of community service. The second offense is fined with P2,000 or punished by aresto menor of 6 to 10 days of jail time, and the third offense is fined with P3,000 or aresto menor of 11 to 30 days of jail time.
2. Medium Violations
These violations include making offensive body gestures at someone, exposing private parts for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator with the effect of demeaning, harassing, threatening or intimidating the offended party.
The first offense is fined with P3,000 or 8 hours of community service. Second offense is fined with P4,000 or punished by aresto menor of 11 to 30 days of jail time. The third offense is fined with P5,000 or aresto mayor of one to six months of jail time.
3. Severe Violations
These violations include Stalking; all the acts mentioned light and medium violations accompanied by touching, pinching or brushing against the body of a person; or any touching, pinching, or brushing against the genitalia, anus, groin, breasts, inner thighs, face, or buttocks.
The first offense is fined with P4,000 or punished by aresto menor of 11 to 30 days of jail time, together with a mandatory Gender Sensitivity Seminar. The second offense is fined with P5,000 or punished by aresto mayor of one to six months of jail time. Third offense shall be fined with P10,000 or aresto mayor of one to six months of jail time.
All the penalties set by the bill may not be enough for some who have gone through harassment on the streets and public places, but S.B 1326 is a step away from giving justice and consequence for those who continue with their sexism and misogyny.
It may be a small step to a big change, but we have high hopes to get there! Share this post if you’re glad that the bill is passed!