Press Release
May 29, 2019

Hontiveros on the Safe Spaces Act lapsing into law:

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros today welcomed the lapsing into law of a proposed measure that penalizes catcalling, wolf-whistling and other forms of gender-based street harassment against women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Hontiveros described it as a "massive victory" and a "major push back" against what she called the country's "growing bastos culture."

"This is a big victory and a major push back against the growing 'bastos culture' in our streets and communities. Now, women and LGBTs have a strong policy instrument to protect us from gender-based street harrassment. With this law, we will reclaim our streets from sexual harassers and gender bigots and make public spaces safe for all," Hontiveros said.

Law also protects men, pushes positive behavioral change"

Hontiveros, who is also the Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, said the law is not only for women and LGBTs. She said the law also protects men from sexist acts and behavior.

"The law is not a measure to punish men. It actually protects men from capitulating to sexist acts and gender bigotry by holding such deeds accountable. It is a policy that aims to effect positive behavioral changes in society. And in this effort, we believe men will play a big part in this positive transformation," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros urged the government to ensure that the provisions of the law will be implemented in every street, school and office in the country, especially in relation to funding and personnel that the law requires for its execution. "The effective implementation of this act will send a clear message to the world that we are fighting back. We will not allow gender-based harassment and violence to rule our public spaces anymore," she said.

The Safe Spaces Act, principally authored and sponsored by Hontiveros in the Senate, imposes hefty penalties for "any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person" in public spaces, including acts like "catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs, sexual comments and suggestions, public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any advances, whether verbal or physical, that are unwanted and threaten one's sense of personal space and physical safety."

The measure lapsed into law on April 21 after President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly did not act on a bicameral conference committee report ratified in February.

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