Baguio City considers plan to punish wolf-whistling with jail

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wolf-whistling

Wolf-whistling or catcalling women in Baguio City could earn perpetrators a 5,000-peso fine or up to six months in jail.

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This is according to an ordinance proposed by city councillor Joel Alangsab, who said: “Currently the law is unclear, so we want to make an ordinance to protect our women.”

The ordinance, entitled “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Ordinance of Baguio City”, seeks to punish “unwanted comments, gestures and actions forced on a person in a public space without their consent and directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation and identity”.

Wolf-whistling, catcalling, ogling and leering would all fall under the scope of the proposed ordinance.

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Other punishable offences would include slurs, persistent requests for somebody’s name and number, public masturbation, groping, stalking and sexist, homophobic, transphobic and misogynistic acts.

The ordinance has been scheduled for a second reading.

National wolf-whistling bill

Earlier this year, on Valentines Day, we reported on a national bill proposed by Senator Risa Hontiveros to penalise “harassment” while also cracking down on homophobic and transphobic abuse.

Senate Bill No. 1326, or the “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act”, also defined harassment as “unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a person in a public space without their consent and directed at them”.

Senator Hontiveros said: “Despite the fact that street harassment is a daily reality for an overwhelming majority of Filipinas and LGBTs, there are no clear-cut laws that specifically address this malaise”.

As with the proposed Baguio ordinance, “light violations” include wolf-whistling, cat-calling, leering, sexist and homophobic or transphobic slurs. The bill suggested a maximum fine of 3,000 pesos and up to a month in jail for these.

It was also suggested that first-time offenders would also be forced to sit through an eight-hour “Gender Sensitivity Seminar” conducted by the Philippine National Police.

Medium violations are expected to include making “offensive body gestures” and flashing. The penalty for these acts could be a fine of up to 5,000 pesos and imprisonment of up to six months.

Stalking as well as “light and medium violations accompanied by touching, pinching and brushing against the body of a person” could incur 10,000 peso fines and six months in prison.

The new laws would be enforced by “Anti-Sexual Harassment Enforcers”. These officers would have the power of arrest and could immediately impose fines or issue community service orders.

The proposed bill remains at the committee stage.

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