Catcalling, sexual comments and gestures, and sexual jokes in public spaces like streets, schools or buildings may soon be a thing of the past or else anybody doing these acts may be put to jail or pay a fine.
These gender-based sexual harassment acts defined in Safe Spaces Act or the Republic Act No. 11313 were tackled during a briefing session organized by the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns last December 10, 2019 at the Labor Governance Learning Center.
According to Maria Janica Brigola, Senior Gender and Development (GAD) Specialist from the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the penalties depend if the acts are verbal, demonstrated, or through stalking and physical advances.
“The penalty can start from 12 hours community service and a ₱1,000.00 fine to imprisonment up to 4 months and 1 day to 6 months or ₱100,000.00 fine,” she added.
Undersecretary Ana Dione also graced the event. She expressed that the new law will protect individuals from sexual harassment not only in the workplace but also in streets, public utility vehicles and other public places.
“It may also interest us to know that this Act is also paving the way to the eventual ratification of ILO Convention 190 or the Violence and Harassment Convention 2019. I take this opportunity to challenge all of you to make an effort to integrate the information you will gather from this activity in your various organization,” Dione added.
Atty. Maricar Mon-Cancino of the Civil Service Commission discussed the law for the government sector, while Director Ma. Karina Perida-Trayvilla of the BWSC focused the discussion of the law for the private sector.
In her closing speech, Atty. Trayvilla hoped that the participants will continue to advocate for the rights not only of women, but of children.
“I hope as women, we become champions of women’s rights and of course children. I hope that you take time to think on how we can advocate for the rights of women,” she expressed.
The Safe Spaces Act was signed on April 17, 2019 and took effect on August 3, 2019. The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the said law was signed on October 28 of the same year.