House OKs bill criminalizing catcalling, street harassment

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives approved on Monday, January 14, a bill that would punish catcalling and other forms of street harassment. 

Legislators approved on 3rd and final reading House Bill (HB) 8794 or the “Safe Street, Public and Online Spaces Act” with a vote of 208-0-0. (READ: The many faces of sexual harassment in PH

The bill seeks to tag as "crimes" different forms of gender-based street, public spaces, and online sexual harassment, which are committed “through any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person that result or will likely result [to] an invasion of the victim’s sense of personal safety, regardless of the motive for committing such action or remarks.” 

The Senate already approved its version of the measure in October 2018, which means the bill will now go to the bicameral conference committee so lawmakers can reconcile conflicting provisions of their versions.

What are the prohibited acts and the punishments? HB 8794 sets different penalties for specific violations.

For acts like cursing, wolf-whistling, catcalling, leering and intrusive gazing, taunting, cursing, unwanted invitations, misogynistic and sexist slurs, persistent unwanted comments on one’s appearance, relentless requests for one’s personal details, the use of words, gestures, or actions that ridicule on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, identity, and expression, the persistent telling of sexual jokes, use of sexual names, comments, and demands, and any statement that has made an invasion on a person’s personal space or threatens the person’s sense of personal safety:

For acts like making offensive body gestures at someone and exposing private parts:

For acts like stalking as well as offensive body gestures and exposure of private parts accompanied by touching, pinching, or brushing against the body of the offended person, or touching, pinching or brushing against the genitalia, face, arms, anus, groin, breasts, inner thighs, face, buttocks or any part of the victim’s body:

For gender-based online sexual harassment: 2 years to 4 years and 2 months in prison or P100,000 to P500,000 fine. – 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.