Safe Spaces’ IRR define public spaces

THE implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law that punishes gender-based sexual harassment have now specified what areas are considered public spaces.

The IRR of Republic Act (RA) 11313, or the Safe Spaces Act, states that public spaces include areas such as alleys, roads, sidewalks, parks, buildings, schools, churches, restaurants, malls, public washrooms, bars, internet shops, public markets, transportation terminals and public utility vehicles.

RA 11313 also focuses on four main areas where sexual harassment may be committed—public spaces, online platforms, workplace and educational and training institutions.

On Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and Plan International Philippines conducted a regional public consultation for the development of the law’s IRR at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu in Cebu City.

Representatives from various sectors and stakeholders—local government units, women organizations and students—have agreed on the existing IRR. They were relieved to see that the new law is now more defined.

The Safe Spaces Act aims to protect all persons from different forms of sexual harassment, specifically in pubic spaces and in online platforms. The law strengthens Republic Act 7877, or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law of 1995.

The law has mandated the drafting of its IRR within 90 days from the date it took effect, with the PCW acting as the lead agency in the process.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who had been criticized by women’s rights groups for his rape jokes, signed RA 11313 into law on April 17, 2019. It took effect on Aug. 3.

Lawyer Jaye Bekema, chief legislative officer of Sen. Risa Hontiveros, said the new law has a wider scope of what sexual harassment is, adding that laws and regulations that were not covered before are now specified in the new law.

For her part, Beth Angsiasco of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines said sexual harassment may happen anywhere and anytime.

That is why under the new law, her group wants to specify what areas are considered public areas.

RA 11313 also mandates the local government units and barangay officials to implement its provisions. RSR


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