Wolf whistling and cat-calling could soon land you in jail.
A bill proposed by Senator Risa Hontiveros seeks to penalise street “harassment” while also cracking down on homophobic and transphobic abuse.
Senate Bill No. 1326 also known as the “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act” defines 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”.
Light violations, such as swearing, wolf-whistling, cat-calling, leering, sexist and homophobic or transphobic slurs, could be penalised with a fine of up to 3,000 pesos and arrest of up to 30 days.
First offenders will 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 a 10,000 peso fine 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.
UPDATE, December 2017: Similar laws are being considered for Manila. Draft Ordinance Number 7857 or “An Ordinance Penalizing Catcalling and Other Forms of Public Sexual Harassment” has now passed its first reading with the city council.
Councillor Krystle Bacani, the author of the ordinance, said violators could be imprisoned for up to six months and fined up to 10,000 pesos.
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