Senate approves bill punishing catcalling, street harassment

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate on Monday, October 8, approved a bill seeking to to protect women from catcalling and other forms of street harassment. (READ: The streets that haunt Filipino women)

Senate Bill 1326 or the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017 seeks to penalize catcalling, wolf-whistling, cursing, leering, groping, and persistent requests for name and contact details after clear refusal, public masturbation, and stalking, among others.

The measure is still far from becoming a law, as a counterpart bill remains pending with the House committee on women and gender equality.

Under the bill, there are 3 kinds of violations: light, medium, and severe.

Light violations: These include cursing, wolf-whistling, catcalling, leering, persistent requests for information, the use of ridicule words including sexist, homophobic and transphobic slurs, or the persistent telling of sexual jokes.

First offense would be punished by a fine of P1,000 and/or community service of 8 hours inclusive of a Gender Sensitivity Seminar by the Philippine National Police, local government unit, and the Philippine Commission on Women.

Second offense would face 6 to 10 days imprisonment or a fine of P2,000. Third time violators would be jailed for 11 to 30 days or a fine of P3,000.

Medium violations: These include offensive body gestures at someone, exposing private parts meant to demean, harass, threaten, or intimidate the offended party.

First offense would be punished by a fine of P3,000 and/or an 8-hour community service and Gender Sensitivity Seminar; Second offense, 11 to 30 days of imprisonment or a fine of P4,000; and Third offense, 1 to 6 months imprisonment or a fine of P5,000.

Severe violations: Stalking, acts previously mentioned that are accompanied by touching, pinching or brushing against the body of a person; or any touching, pinching, or brushing against the genitalia and other body parts of the victim.

First offense would be punished by 11 to 30 days of jailtime or a fine of P4,000, with a Gender Sensitivity Seminar.

Second offense shall be punished by 1 to 6 months of imprisonment or a fine of P5,000. Third offense shall be punished by 1 to 6 months imprisonment or a fine of P10,000.

In addition to these, government employees may face administrative sanctions.

Those who harass others in public utility vehicles may also face cancellation of license and revocation of franchise. –


Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email