MANILA, Philippines – From bars, to buses, to private online messages, a law penalizing unwanted sexual advances is now in full force.
On October 28, 14 national government agencies and civil society organizations signed the implementing rules and regulations of the Safe Spaces Act, or the 'Bawal Bastos' Law. It was enacted into law earlier this year.
The Safe Spaces Act expands the definition of sexual harassment as originally defined in the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995. Its definition then, which was limited to only persons of authority as possible offenders, has developed into recognizing anyone as an offender, even subordinates or peers.
Acts such as groping, spreading nude photos, or sexist or homophobic remarks are punishable by law. (READ: FAST FACTS: How does the Safe Spaces Act protect you?)
Chief William Macavinta of the Philippine National Police's Women's and Children's Protection Center called on communities to report sexual harassment whenever they bear witness to any instance.
"In some cases, sometimes alam mo naman, ang mga pulis natin ay hindi lahat ng lugar ay na-cocoveran namin. Kailangan magkaroon talaga tayo ng partnership sa community, hindi lang 'yung mga involved na government agencies, para ma-ensure ang successful implementation nito," he said.
(In some cases, sometimes our police cannot cover all places. We need a partnership with the community, not just with the involved government agencies, to ensure the successful implementation of the law.)
Meanwhile, principal author Senator Risa Hontiveros said the law was designed to not only influence policies, but also the culture of harassment in public spaces.
"Talagang i-una po natin ang reklamo kapag may offenses, at magkaroon ng preventive effect sa mga potential na magiging boy bastos sa ating mga lansangan at iba pang public spaces na, this is now frowned upon by the law, and over time, sana 'yung maging sentro na rin ito ng isang bagong kultura ng respeto sa isa't isa, kapalit ng kutura ng kabastusan at karahasan," she said.
(We really need to prioritize complaints when there are offenses, and there should be a preventive effect towards potential wolf-whistler boys in our surroundings and other public spaces so that they understand that this is now frowned upon by the law, and over time, this law should be the center of a new culture of respect instead of harassment and violence.) – Rappler.com