Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has lauded the enactment of Republic Act (RA) No. 11313, or the “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act,” imposing stiffer penalties against gender-based sexual harassment occurring in public spaces and online.
De Lima, one of the women human rights defenders under threat in the Philippines, said she hopes that Mr. Duterte, as the country’s most powerful official, can lead by example by respecting and properly implementing the law.
“Masaya po tayo sa pagiging ganap ng batas na tutugon sa mga pang-aabuso sa mga kababaihan at miyembro ng LGBT community na madalas na nagiging biktima ng pambabastos sa pampublikong lugar,” she said.
“I hope that this new law will be implemented strictly and properly, and will not exempt from compliance our public officials, especially Mr. Duterte who is infamous for his sexist jokes and misogynist remarks. He should respect his own signature under a presidential seal affixed in that law.” she added.
Senate Bill No. 1558, now RA 11313, was principally authored and sponsored by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, with Senators Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, and De Lima among its co-authors. The new law is popularly referred to as “Bawal Bastos” Act.
While a copy of the new law shows that Mr. Duterte signed it last April 17, Malacañang only released it to the public last July 15.
The new law places cursing, catcalling, wolf-whistling, leering, taunting, misogynistic and sexist slurs, persistent telling of sexual jokes, and use of sexual names, among others, as gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment.
The specified acts may be punishable from community service of 12 hours up to arresto menor or 11 to 30 days imprisonment for the third offense.
Other unlawful acts, such as making offensive body gestures at someone, exposing private parts for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator, and stalking, to name some, may receive graver punishment of imprisonment of up to a month and one day and up to six months under the
De Lima said that although these penalties may not be sufficient to deter committed misogynists like Duterte, at the least they might think twice before violating the law.
“Kung iipunin lang naman lahat ng pambabastos sa kababaihan na sinambit at ginawa ni Duterte mula noong maupo siya sa Malacañang, kulang na kulang ‘yang parusa na ‘yan. Baka nga kulang pa ang parusang reclusion perpetua para sa kanya,” De Lima added.
The lady Senator from Bicol maintained that everyone, regardless of gender, deserve to be respected and feel safe in public spaces.
“Pinaaalala lang din ng batas na ito ang kahalagahan ng pagrespeto natin sa bawat isa at ang pagiging maingat natin sa mga salitang ating bibitawan,” said De Lima.
In the 17th Congress, De Lima has authored and co-authored several bills and resolutions advocating women’s rights, including Senate Resolution No. 670, seeking to strengthen compliance in the execution of gender-responsive programs by GAD to bridge the gap between men and women and Senate Bill No. 1438 focusing on the protection of women in state custody.
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