‘One may think it is a compliment to catcall, or to leer, but such unwanted comments, gestures and actions forced on a person in a public space is actually sexist and offensive.’
A new bill introduced to the Philippines parliament would make it illegal to harass women and LGBT people in public places.
Senator Risa Hontiveros filed the ‘Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017’ Bill last week.
The Bill would outlaw catcalling, wolf-whistling, cursing, leering, groping, persistent requests for name and contact details.
It will also be illegal to use derogatory words about a person’s actual or perceived sex, gender expression, or sexual orientation and identity including sexist, homophobic and transphobic slurs in public spaces.
Hontiveros said the bill would build on the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law of 1995.
‘I filed the bill 23 years since the passage of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law which is limited to the workplace and to superior-subordinate relationships,’ Hontiveros said.
Under the bill, anyone violating the law would face one to six months jail time and a fine of 10,000 Philippine pesos (USD$198).
Harassment a real issue in the Philippines
Data from the Philippines most populous city, Quezon City, showed three in five women have experienced street harassment.
A report from Social Weather Station showed nine out of 10 women between the ages of 18-24 had experienced different forms of public sexual harassment.
Hontiveros said she had received reports of harassment from young school students and the behaviour has the potential to affect people’s work, education or general life.
‘One may think it is a compliment to catcall, or to leer, but such unwanted comments, gestures and actions forced on a person in a public space is actually sexist and offensive,’ she said.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and local units of the Philippine National Police would be granted authority to apprehend perpetrators.