“Bihirang lumipas ang isang araw na hindi ako na-cacatcall”, said 4th year college student Kana Takahashi, sharing her experience of being sexually-harassed in her daily commute to school. “I always have to ready my pepper spray and rape whistle everytime”, she said.
A student leader in one of the universities in the city of Manila, Kana said that sexual harassment in public spaces is a daily reality not only for her but for many women in the nation’s capital.
That soon might change. Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday lauded the passage of a Manila ordinance penalizing catcalling and other forms of public sexual harassment.
The ordinance, sponsored by Manila District 4 Councilor Krystle Bacani, will penalize all forms of sexual harassment in public spaces such as catcalling, wholf-whistling, leering, groping and many others. It also outlines clear penalties for violations and violators and enhances the role of the Manila Police District in apprehending harassers. Manila Ordinance No. 7857 was passed on third and final reading by the Manila City Council on Thursday.
Manila joins Quezon City in penalizing street-level harassment of women. In 2016,
Mayor Herbert Bautista has signed into law the city’s amended gender and development code, imposing a fine and jail term for acts considered as sexual harassment of women in public spaces.
“The passage of this landmark measure is a big victory for women and safe spaces advocates. It is historic and groundbreaking. An anti-catcalling ordinance in the country’s capital is a big boost to the campaign to protect its women from daily street harassment and a clear policy shift on the part of our local government. This will certainly serve as an inspiration as we push for the passage of a similar policy on the national level,” Hontiveros said.
“I would like to congratulate Councilor Krystle Bacani for leading the charge in the passage of this ordinance, the Manila City Council and Mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada for supporting the women’s clamor for safe streets,” Hontiveros added.
Last March, Hontiveros, citing data from the Manila Police District (MPD), said that two (2) women get harassed everyday in the country’s capital. The forms of harassment reported include acts of lasciviousness, sexual harassment, rape and violence against women. She said most of the incidents happened after office hours and during unholy hours.
Hontiveros, who is the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, is pushing for the passage of a Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act in the Senate. The bill aims to prohibit and penalize gender-based harassment in public spaces such as catcalling, wolf-whistling, cursing, leering, groping, persistent request for name and contact details. It also seeks to penalize 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.
Hontiveros’ bill is scheduled for interpellation once the Senate resumes session.