MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Thursday, November 24, filed a bill that seeks to expand the coverage of Republic Act 7877, or the Philippine Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995, to include online harassment.
Senate Bill 1254, or the proposed Expanded Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 2016, defines sexual harassment as “an unwelcome or unwanted act or series of verbal and non-verbal acts and requests for sexual favors, including those which are committed online or through the use of computers or similar devices such as mobile phones, and tablets, which are lewd or sexually suggestive, and are degrading, offensive or humiliating to one’s dignity or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the persons affected.”
Poe said forms of sexual harassment – such as those done in public places – are not covered by RA 7877. These are prosecuted as acts of lasciviousness or unjust vexation under the revised penal code, with substantially lesser penalties than the cost of filing a case.
Under Poe’s bill, jail time of 6 months up to 9 years and fines of up to P100,000 are meted upon acts of sexual harassment done through technology.
Poe’s proposal comes after Senator Risa Hontiveros filed 3 bills – the “Tres Marias” bills – that seek to give women more protection against sexual harassment and violence, including online attacks. These are SB 1251, which seeks to punish those behind misogynistic and homophobic attacks on social media; SB 1252 or the Anti-Rape Act; and SB 1250 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill. – Rappler.com
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