COTABATO CITY, Oct. 15 (PIA) - The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) together with Plan International Philippines held the fifth of the eight countrywide consultations on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act on October 4 here.
The Safe Spaces Act was signed into law on April 17, 2019 and became effective on August 3, 2019.
Aimed at strengthening the country's legal framework against sexual harassment, the act seeks to prevent gender-based sexual harassment from occurring in streets, public places, and online workplaces, educational, and training institutions.
During the activity, one of the principal authors of the law, Senator Risa Hontiveros, underscored that the safe spaces act was conceptualized as a response to the policy gaps of the existing law on the "Anti-Sexual Harassment Law of 1995" and to strengthen the previous legislation penalizing sexual harassment by expanding the acts considered as sexual.
"Ordinary people in both urban and rural areas experienced sexual harassment. Happening in the streets and other public places and are not yet covered by the previous law. The scope of that law was limited to work places, educational and training institutions," she explained.
According to the law, gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassments include catcalling, wolf whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slur, persistent uninvited comments of gestures on a person's appearance, relentless request for personal details, statement of sexual comments and suggestions, public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping or any advances, whether verbal or physical, that is unwanted and has threatened one's sense of personal space and physical safety.
"In an ideal world we are not supposed to feel unsafe of public spaces. Public spaces are meant to be shared by all. No one should be in fear while interacting on public spaces," Hontiveros emphasized.
She also expressed optimism that the law can serve to unify diverse spiritual and humanist beliefs in promoting everyone's God-given human rights of dignity, equality, and freedom from fear.
"The Bawal Bastos Law may not change the world overnight or even in the next few years, but I am confident that as a national policy it is a good start," the senator stated.
The activity was attended by representatives from various sectors and stakeholders including local government units, women's organizations, and the civil society. Four of the consultations were already held in Baguio, Cebu, Davao and Pampanga. The remaining schedule of consultations will be held in Masbate and in two areas of Metro Manila. (PIA-Cotabato City)