Senate ratifies Safe Spaces bill

By FilaneMikee Cervantes

MANILA – The Senate on Wednesday ratified a bicameral conference committee report on a bill seeking to impose heftier penalties for “any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person” in public spaces.

During the plenary session, the Senate approved the reconciled version of the proposed Safe Spaces Act.

The measure seeks to penalize acts, which include “catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs, sexual comments and suggestions, public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any advances, whether verbal or physical, that are unwanted and threaten one’s sense of personal space and physical safety.”

Another provision of the measure is the expansion of the country’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 to penalize acts of sexual harassment committed between peers and those committed to a superior officer by a subordinate, or to a teacher by a student, or to a trainer by a trainee.

Senator RisaHontiveros, sponsor and author of the measure, said the measure aims to better protect Filipinos, especially women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, from “bigotry and hatred we see rampant in our streets, schools and even workplaces today.”

“This measure will plug gaps in the existing law so that persons at work, school or elsewhere can be confident that they will enjoy protection from all sorts of abusers and harassers — no matter who they are,” Hontiveros said. (PNA)