The “Bawal Bastos” bill or the Safe Spaces Act was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte into law last April 17 but was only announced this July 15. This bill aims to penalize all forms of sexual harassment, both in public spaces and online. It aims to protect against “any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person.”
According to the law, “It is the policy of the state to value the dignity of every human person and guarantee full respect for human rights. It is likewise the policy of the state to recognize the role of women in nation-building and ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men.”
As such, the following acts will now face a penalty: cursing; wolf-whistling; catcalling; leering and intrusive gazing; taunting; unwanted invitations; misogynistic; transphobic; homophobic; sexist slurs; persistent unwanted comments on one’s appearance; relentless requests for one’s 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.
Specific to online spaces, the law also protects against online hate speech or derogatory remarks, cyberstalking, uploading and sharing without consent of any unauthorized photos, videos or information, and more. It also warns against gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace such as undue sexual advances, requests, or demands.
The law institutes the following penalties for acts of cursing, wolf-whistling, catcalling, leering and intrusive gazing, taunting, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs, etc.:
- 1st offense: P1,000 fine, 12-hours community service, with mandatory attendance in a gender sensitivity seminar
- 2nd offense: 6 days to 10 days in prison or P3,000 fine
- 3rd offense: Up to 30 days in prison or P10,000 fine
For acts such as making offensive body gestures and exposing private parts, public masturbation, groping and similar lewd actions the following apply:
- 1st offense: P10,000 fine, 12-hours community service, with mandatory attendance in a gender sensitivity seminar
- 2nd offense: 11 to 30 days in prison and P15,000 fine
- 3rd offense: 1 month and 1 day to 6 months in prison and P20,000 fine
Stalking and brushing against any part of the victim’s body will be punished with these penalties:
- 1st offense: P30,000 fine, 11 to 30 days in prison, with mandatory attendance in a gender sensitivity seminar
- 2nd offense: 1 month and 1 day to 6 months in prison and P50,000 fine
- 3rd offense: 1 month and 1 day to 6 months in prison and P100,000 fine
Gender-based online harassment will see the punishment of prison in its medium period or a fine ranging from P 100,000 to P 500,000. The Land Transportation Office is enabled to cancel the license of those committing sexual harassment in a public utility vehicle.
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