Hontiveros bill to penalize street harassment
Stalking, wolf-whistling, catcalling and leering at women and LGBTs on the street and in public spaces would be penalized with fines or jail time of up to six months if a bill filed on Tuesday by Sen. Risa Hontiveros becomes law.
Hontiveros’ Senate Bill No. 1326, or simply the “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017,” defines gender-based street and public spaces harassment and intends to benefit mainly women and LGBTs.
While men who are harassed in the same way could also be protected by the proposed law, statistics show that most of those who endure such forms of harassment are women, Hontiveros said.
In an explanatory note to her bill, Hontiveros cited a Social Weather Stations survey last year that showed 88 percent of women aged 18 to 24 years old experienced sexual harassment on the streets.
“While wolf-whistling and catcalling are the most common cases, other forms of sexual harassment include lascivious language, stalking, rubbing or touching, indecent gestures, exhibitionism and public masturbation,” the senator said.
She said 58 percent of these incidents happen “on the streets and small alleys” as well as in public washrooms, public vehicles, schools and workplaces.
A special feature of her bill, she said, was the designation of “antisexual harassment enforcers” by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Philippine National Police. The enforcers could immediately arrest offenders if caught in the act.
People who commit “light” violations like cursing, wolf-whistling, leering, and persistently telling sexual jokes, could be fined P1,000 and made to perform eight hours of community service for their first offense. Three-time offenders face 11 to 30 days in jail or a fine of P3,000.
Making offensive body gestures at someone or exposing genitals are considered a “medium” violation, and those who do it a third time face one to six months in jail or a fine of P5,000.
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