WOMEN being harassed in work places and public spaces is not a new problem anymore. This had been endured and fought against by women in the many occasions that they are faced by this. By definition, sexual harassment is a “behavior characterized by the making of unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances in a workplace or other professional or social situation.”
In other words, sexual harassment is the lack of consent and the feeling of discomfort and uneasiness for the victim. This is especially present in workplaces where other men and other authoritative figure at work feel like they have the power over lower-ranking employees. In effect, they say offensive remarks and do inappropriate gestures. This may only seem like a joke to the offender but it depends on how the receiver of the action and the remarks received it. How did she feel being told and being treated that way?
Fortunately, April 17 of this year, the Republic Act (RA) 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act was signed into law. It covers and penalizes first degree offenses such as catcalling, whistling, persistent telling of sexual jokes, and up to as extreme as the 3rd degree offenses as stalking, sexual advances, and touching and pinching to name a few.
Aside from this, the law also mandates that the management of public establishments such as cinemas, restaurants, bars, and other privately-owned places be participative and helpful should their help be needed in these situations. Further, they are mandated to provide CCTV footages available should the court ask for it.
It is a good initiative by the government that it seeks to provide safe spaces for the Filipinos especially for women. Although this will not have an overnight effect and will still be a long process before the changes will really be significantly felt, it is also important to note that a law is a good cushion to fall back on for now and a powerful weapon against these sexual predators.
It is the dream that with the passing of RA 11313 into law, more women will be aware of their rights and will be protected. But most importantly, it should also educate men to respect women and other people and that women are not props to their libido and sexual jokes.
Further, institutions should not be cowards in protecting the welfare of women and those sexually assaulted. Victims of sexual assault go through a lot of hardships before finally admitting to themselves and to other people that they are indeed assaulted. It is in no way beneficial for them to accuse someone falsely. In the end, their time and reputation are at stake. With that, there will always be a truth to their claims.
Sexual harassment is no joke. As members of the society, Filipinos have the responsibility to respond and be aware of the help they can provide should cases like this arise. By being aware of the laws and the ethical practices and actually putting it into heart, at least one person is saved from sexual harassment.