“Pogi mo naman, kuya!”
“Hello, idol! Saan punta mo?”
“Hi, miss beautiful! Ingat ka!”
“Hello, pogi! Smile naman diyan!”
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These statements are often heard when passing by streets or just merely walking in public. Some may take it as giving compliments, but most are uncomfortable with it regardless of their gender.
Cat-calling or street sexual harassment is always present in the Philippines and the government is taking an initiative to criminalize those who are guilty of it by pushing the “Safe Spaces and Public Spaces Bill” to become a law.
Senator Risa Hontiveros and Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin shared their knowledge about the “Safe Spaces and Public Spaces Bill”. KAMI was invited to a discussion with the lawmakers along with other youth leaders, media outlets, and advocates.
"The Safe Streets and Public Spaces Bill is for men as much it is for women and the LGBT," said Senator Hontiveros.
What is Safe Spaces and Public Spaces Bill?
There are two versions of the bill being passed both in the Senate and House of the Representatives. According to Senate Bill 1326 aka Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017, it penalizes street, workplaces, and public sexual harassment.
This includes gender-based violence or any violence using someone’s sexual identity against the victim, unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a person without consent in public spaces. The bill also covers wolf-whistling, cat-calling, persistent asking of someone’s name, number, or any contact information as well as persistent telling of sexual jokes. Even groping, masturbation, flashing, following, and stalking can be penalized when this becomes a law.
“Cat-calling, wolf-whistling and other forms of sexual harassment in public spaces impede women’s freedom of mobility. Why do we blame women who get harassed on the streets? Why do we say, ‘ayan kasi, gabi na, naglalakad ka pa sa daan?’ Women pay taxes to have those streets built. We should be free to walk our streets without fear, at whatever time of the day,” said Sen. Hontiveros.
According to Rep. Villarin, the bill also aims to change the norm that the victims should be the ones to prove that such crime happened as well as the culture of victim-blaming. It also promotes the “no means no” principle which is a blatant way of not giving consent to others.
Sen. Hontiveros shared that they want to have a Philippine version of “Angela Code” which is used abroad to ask for help from bars, restaurants, or other establishments as a way of getting away or escaping from uncomfortable situations.
Both lawmakers are hopeful that this bill will be passed into law. The bill is yet to be approved for its third and final reading in the House of Representatives.
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What are the proposed penalties for public sexual harassment?
The fine can range from P1,000 to P10,000 depending on the gravity of the offense. The offenders are also subjected to a Gender Sensitivity Seminar and/or undergo community service or aresto menor.
According to Senator Hontiveros, there will be ticket issuing to the offenders just like for traffic violations so that there will be a hard evidence that such crime happened.
Last year, KAMI conducted a social experiment if cat-calling happens in Manila. According to the result, there were 10 cases of cat-calling in just one hour.
Watch the video here:
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Several times dropped the wallet in Quiapo (district considered quite dangerous) and Cubao (district considered quite prosperous) and checked where people would return it. In one case a person returned the wallet to the wrong person, who... took it. Check out where it happened (and get surprised) – on KAMI HumanMeter YouTube channel!