Press Release
November 27, 2017


Coinciding with the observance of the International Week for the Elimination of Violence against Women which started last November 25, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday filed a resolution calling for "zero tolerance" for gender-based street and public spaces harassment and the creation of "safe spaces" for all women in public spaces, schools, transportation, and work places.

Hontiveros, who is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, filed Senate Resolution No. 551 amid reports of cases of sexual harassment in the entertainment and music industry, unmasking what the Senator said was previously "an invisible social malaise."

It was recently reported that several Filipino indie (independent) bands have been accused of various acts of sexual misconduct such as making lewd remarks and forcing themselves on women.

"The spate of new cases of sexual abuse from Hollywood to the country's local indie band scene have demonstrated yet again the urgency of the need to reclaim public spaces and make them safe for women. We must put a stop to the culture of sexual harassment which has enabled impunity among sexual harassers," Hontiveros said.

"There should be zero tolerance for misogyny and sexism wherever they take refuge. This anti-women culture must be condemned on all fronts and places whether they be in the schools, work places, transportation, bars and music places," Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros also lauded music organizers and sponsors who have dropped artists proven to be guilty of sexual abuse against women. It was reported that the organizers of the University of the Philippines Fair and Coke Studio dropped bands that have admitted wrongdoing and/or apologized for their actions.

"This is a step in the right direction. One of our best weapons against this prevalent culture of sexism is a strong culture of exacting accountability. It is important to let people know that there are real and heavy consequences for this despicable kind of behavior. Along with grassroots education on women rights, we hope this will jumpstart the building of a movement pushing for the creation of safe spaces for all women," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros is author of Senate Bill No. 1326 or the "Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017" that seeks to protect women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from harassment in public spaces. Under the bill, catcalling, wolf-whistling, cursing, leering, groping, persistent requests for name and contact details and the use of words tending to ridicule on the basis of actual or perceived sex, gender expression, or sexual orientation and identity including sexist, homophobic and transphobic slurs in public spaces will be penalized.

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