Press Release
August 29, 2010

Malicious and Vulgar Demands or Requests For Sexual Favors Through Text, Email or Chat Messages - Should Be Punished Under R.A. 7877 - "Sexual Harassment Act"

Senator Loren Legarda introduced amendments to the "Sexual Harassment Law" to include sending SMS messages, electronic mail, internet chat and other similar means of conveying messages via electronic communication that constitute sexual harassment under the said law.

Legarda's Senate Bill No. 1412 intends to expand the medium of communication by which demands and requests for sexual favors constituting acts of sexual harassment, as defined under RA 7877, otherwise known as the "Sexual Harassment Law" by proposing an amendment to Section 3 of the said law. - "The ACT OR THE SENDING OF TEXT MESSAGES, ELECTRONIC MAIL OR OTHER SIMILAR MEANS, MAKING SEXUAL ADVANCES OR LURID REMARKS, CAUSING EMBARRASSMENT TO THE RECEIVER OR BY THEIR NATURE MAY QUALIFY AS VULGAR, SMUTTY, SEXIST, OBSCENE OR MALICIOUS."

Also provided in Senate Bill No 1412 is when in a work-related or employment environment, sexual harassment is deemed committed VERBALLY, IN WRITING OR THROUGH THE USE OF A TELEPHONE, CELLULAR PHONE, FAX MACHINE, ELECTRONIC MAIL OR OTHER SIMILAR MEANS when:

1. The sexual favor is made as a condition in the hiring or in the employment, re-employment or continued employment of said individual, or in granting said individual favorable compensation, term, condition, promotions, or privileges; or the refusal to grant the sexual favor result in limiting, segregating or classifying the employee which in any way would discriminate, deprive or diminish employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect said employee;

2. The above acts would impair the employee's rights or privileges under existing labor laws; or

3. The above acts would result in an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the employee.

"In an education or training environment, sexual harassment is committed THROUGH ORAL, WRITTEN OR WITH THE USE OF A TELEPHONE, CELLULAR PHONE, FAX MACHINE, ELECTRONIC MAIL OR OTHER SIMILAR MEANS against one who is under the care, custody or supervision of the offender."

"RA 7877 enacted in 1995, is a landmark law providing a comprehensive policy and legal framework for the recognition of the problem of sexual harassment and penalizing perpetrators of said crime."

Legarda said data from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) shows that as there are more than 1.4 million subscribers of internet services and an estimated 35 million subscribers of telecommunication services. Such modern forms of communication are widely used today and have been a common medium of work-related and personal communication.

"Like the traditional forms of communication, these new forms of communication can be used to convey messages that are vulgar, smutty, sexist as well as push for, demand or request for sexual favors. These messages, in whatever means they are communicated, sexually harass the recipients of the same," Legarda concluded.

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