I remember this started in Quezon City a couple of years ago (maybe that’s how I remember it because I live in Quezon City). I saw tarpaulin signs along the QC Memorial Circle, encouraging females to report catcalling, wolf-whistling, and any other type of advances made by the opposite sex that make them uncomfortable and unsafe. I thought it was a bold move from the city government and I secretly hoped it could be implemented nationwide.
And then I saw this news last Monday that says: “New law punishes wolf-whistling, catcalling, online sexual harassment,” and I could not believe my eyes! My prayer has just been answered.
What is Anti-bastos law?
The politically correct term (or title) is Safe Spaces Act or Republic Act No. 11313 and it was signed by the President last April 17, 2019; however, a copy of the law was only made public last Monday, July 15. It covers all forms of sexual harassment and slurs done in public, online, and even in private messages.
What are the forms of sexual harassment and corresponding penalties imposed by the Safe Spaces Act?
First degree offenses:
- Leering and intrusive gazing
- Taunting, unwanted invitations
- Misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs.
- Persistent unwanted comments on one’s appearance.
- Relentless requests for personal details such as name, contact, and social media details or destination.
- Use of words, gestures, or actions that ridicule on the basis of sex, gender, or sexual orientation; identity and/or expression including sexist, homophobic, transphobic statements and slurs.
- A persistent telling of sexual jokes.
- Use of sexual names, comments, and demands.
- Any statement that has made an invasion on a person’s personal space or threatens the person’s sense of personal safety.
Penalties for the first-degree offense:
- First offense: P1,000 fine and 12-hours community service with Gender Sensitivity Seminar
- Second offense: 6-10 days in prison/P3,000 fine
- Third offense: 11-30 days in prison and P10,000-fine
- Making offensive body gestures at someone
- Public masturbation
- Flashing of private parts
- Similar lewd actions
Penalties for second-degree offenses:
- First offense: P10,000-fine and 12-hours community service with Gender Sensitivity Seminar
- Second offense: 11-30 days in prison/P15,000 fine
- Third offense: 1 month and 1 day to 6 months in prison and P20,000 fine.
- Sexual advances, gestures, and statements mentioned previously with pinching or brushing against the body of the offended person.
- Touching, pinching, or brushing against the genitalia, face, arms, anus, groin, breasts, inner thighs, face, buttocks, or any part of the victim’s body.
Penalties for third-degree offenses:
- First offense: 11-30 days in prison/P3,000-fine with attendance to Gender Sensitivity Seminar
- Second offense: 1 month and 1 day to 6 months in prison and P50,000-fine
- Third offense: 4 months and 1 day to 6 months in prison/P100,000-fine
Sexual Harassment Online
The law defines it as the use of information and communication technology in terrorizing and intimidating victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats.
To further describe what online sexual harassment is, below are specific descriptions:
- Unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist remarks and comments online whether publicly or through direct and private messages.
- Invasion of the victim’s privacy through cyber-stalking and incessant messaging.
- Uploading and sharing without the consent of the victims, any form of media that contains photos, voice, or video with sexual content.
- Unauthorized recording and sharing of any of the victim’s photos, videos, or any information online.
- Impersonating identities of victims online or posting lies about victims to harm their reputation.
- Filing false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims.
Penalty for anyone who commits online sexual harassment:
- 2 years, 4 months, and 1 day to 4 years, and 2 months in prison or P100,000 to P500,000-fine, or both.
The Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNPACG) shall develop an online mechanism for reporting real-time online sexual harassment. They are also in charge of apprehending violators online.
Sexual Harassment in Workplaces and Schools
The law defines this as:
An act or series of acts involving any unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demand for sexual favors, or any act of sexual nature, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems, that has or could have detrimental effect on the conditions of an individual’s employment or education, job performance, or opportunities.
Employers are enjoined to form a committee that will address complaints of sexual harassment; this must be headed by a female employee and half of the member population must be composed of women.
Responsibility of Public Establishments
The laws also mandate establishments such as restaurants, cinemas, malls, bars and other privately-owned places to adopt a “zero-tolerance policy” in the implementation of RA 11313. These establishments must cooperate in the timely reporting of sexual harassment in their areas and make CCTV footage available when ordered by the court.
Tell me what you think about this new law and how this could help you and your family. I would love to hear from you.