Sunday, June 16, 2019

Bill against cat-calling passed on second reading

THE House of Representatives has approved on second reading the bill which seeks to penalize cat-calling and wolf-whistling.

House Bill 8794, or the “Safe Street, Public and Online Spaces Act,” seeks to define gender-based street, public spaces and online sexual harassment to provide protective measures as well as prescribe penalties for violators.

The bill declares that the State shall value the dignity of every person and guarantee full respect to human rights.

Under the measure, gender-based street and public spaces harassment includes cat-calling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic and sexist slurs, persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person's appearance, relentless requests for personal details, statements of sexual comments or suggestions, or any advances, whether physical or verbal, that is unwanted and has threatened one's personal space and physical safety.

Street harassment are harassment performed in schools, churches, restaurants, malls, public washrooms, bars, internet shops, public markets, transportation terminals, public utility vehicles, sidewalks, or alleys, aside from others.

Meanwhile, online sexual harassment, as defined under the bill includes the use of information and communications technology to terrorize and intimidate victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats, as well as unwanted sexual and sexist remarks or comments online.

Those who commit gender-based street and public spaces harassment shall be penalized, depending on the gravity and frequency of the crime, with: a community service inclusive of attendance to a Gender Sensitivity Seminar to be conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP); imprisonment; or a fine of P10,000 up to P500,000.

If the harasser is a juridical person, its license or franchise shall be automatically deemed revoked. An alien who will violate this Act shall be subject to deportation proceedings after serving sentence and payment of fines.

HB 8794 mandates the Women and Children's desks in all police stations to attend to all complaints, and to coordinate with Anti-Sexual Harassment Enforcers (A-SHE) on the streets, security guards in privately-owned spaces that are open to the public, anti-sexual harassment officers in government and private offices or schools in the enforcement of the Act.

Among the authors of the bill are Siquijor Rep. Ramon Rocamora, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin and AGBIAG Rep. Michelle Antonio. (SunStar Philippines)


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