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'GENDER-BASED STREET, PUBLIC SPACES, ONLINE SEXUAL HARASSMENT’ BILL HURDLES HOUSE SECOND READING



The House of Representatives has approved on second reading House Bill 8794 or the proposed Safe Street, Public and Online Spaces act which seeks to provide protective measures, as well as prescribe penalties for violators.

The bill, which seeks to define gender-based street, public spaces and online sexual harassment, declares that the State shall value the dignity of every person and guarantee full respect of human rights and shall also recognize that both men and women must have equality, security, and safety not only in private, but also on the streets, public spaces and online.

As defined in the bill, principally authored by Siquijor Rep. Ramon V.A. Rocamora, gender-based street and public spaces harassment includes cat-calling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, or any advances, whether physical or verbal, that is unwanted and has threatened one's personal space and physical safety.

Acts constitutive of street harassment meantime are those performed in schools, churches, restaurants, malls, public washrooms, bars, among others.

Meanwhile, online sexual harassment includes the use of information and communications technology to terrorize and intimidate victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats, as well as unwanted sexual and sexists remarks or comments online.

Furthermore, individuals who commit gender-based street and public spaces harassment shall be penalized, depending on the gravity and frequency of the crime, with (a) a community service inclusive of attendance to a Gender Sensitivity Seminar to be conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP), (b) imprisonment, or (c) a fine of ₱10,000 up to ₱500,000