This article was originally published on Jan 16, 2019. This has been edited and updated this May 29, 2019.
Senator Risa Hontiveros has announced that House Bill 8794, or the “Safe Street, Public and Online Spaces Act,” has officially lapsed into law. The new law considers catcalling, gender-based discrimination, and varying degrees of sexual harassment both online and in public, as criminal offenses.
Acts involving “cat-calling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic and sexist slurs, persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance, relentless requests for personal details, statements of sexual comments or suggestions, or any advances, whether physical or verbal, that is unwanted and has threatened one’s personal space and physical safety,” will be penalized by the Act.
“This is a big victory and a major push back against the growing ‘bastos culture’ in our streets and communities,” says Senator Hontiveros. “Now, women and LGBTs have a strong policy instrument to protect us from gender-based street harrassment.”
Good news, mga mahal!
BATAS NA: Safe Streets & Public Spaces Act (our 12th law) will protect everyone, especially women & LGBT, from sexual harassment in the streets, schools & workplaces.
This law is a landmark victory against bastos culture. Goodbye, catcallers!
— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) May 29, 2019
The law also aims to protect men “from capitulating to sexist acts and gender bigotry by holding such deeds accountable,” says the Senator.
In the bill’s last iteration in January, the degrees of harassment are heavily punished, with catcalling to warrant up to P30,000 in fines along with a 20-day jail sentence, non-contact sexual harassment such as flashing or rude body gestures up to P50,000 and up to six months in jail, inappropriate touching up to P200,000 and up to six months in jail, and online sexual harassment with up to P500,000 in fines and up to four years of imprisonment.
With the passing of this bill into law, let’s look forward to safer streets and a more respectful online environment. Hopefully, we see the end of harassers like PUA affiliates or lewd subreddit photo trading in the near future.
Art by Nika Arreola