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This act penalizing gender-based street harassment pushes for more #SafeSpaces

Imagine a world where public spaces are also considered safe spaces for all genders. Far-fetched, yes, but not impossible.

In a bid to address the growing consciousness toward culture of rape, sexual harassment and misogyny in the country, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros is reiterating her call for the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act, which she filed last February 14, 2017.

Senate Bill No. 1326, authored by Hontiveros, aims to prohibit and penalize gender-based harassment in public spaces such as catcalling, wolf-whistling, cursing, leering, groping, persistent request for name and contact details, and the use of words tending to ridicule on the basis of actual or perceived sex, gender expression, or sexual orientation and identity including sexist, homophobic and transphobic slurs.

Hontiveros said the bill seeks to complement the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law, which is limited to the workplace and superior-subordinate relations. “With the growing number of gender-based street harassment, there is an urgent need to institutionalize strong gender lens for homophobic, transphobic and gender-based unjust vexation in our laws,” Hontiveros explained.

The senator said that the 20-year-old law must be radically revised to reflect the country’s commitment to fighting rape and violence against women. She said that the country’s Anti-rape law puts unjust burden on rape victims and is a far cry from doing justice to those aggrieved.

One of the aims of Hontiveros’s bill is to increase the age of statutory consent from 12 years old to 18 years old. Hontiveros said that the country’s age of sexual consent is one of the lowest in the world, and the lowest in the region.

We hope these acts grow into fruition, which hopefully leads to more and more women feeling safe in our streets.


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