Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality Chair Risa Hontiveros, reiterated the ‘realities’ that women and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) experience daily, on her privilege speech on Tuesday.
Hontiveros filed “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017” on February 14, and has once again resurfaced its importance as a consolidated committee report called: “Safe Streets, Public Places, and Workplaces Bill”
“We needed our version of this law yesterday, Mr. President. Let us make our streets and public spaces safer for women. Let us make our schools and workplaces free from gender-based harassment and sexual violence,” she said.
According to the Senator, harassment in the streets and in the public spaces is a persistent problem of today, and this substitute bill consolidates three existing bills: An Penalizing Gender-Based Street and Public Spaces Harassment, Anti Sexual Harassment Act of 2016, and An Act to Eliminate All Forms of Sexual Harassment In Work Places, Educational Institutions, and Public Places.
Hontiveros said that the bill imposes penalties against unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on or directed to a person in a public place, without their consent because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation and identity.
Specific acts include but are not limited to unwanted cursing, wolf-whistling, cat-calling, leering, sexist, homophobic or transphobic slurs, persistent requests for someone’s name, number or destination after clear refusal, persistent telling of sexual jokes, use of sexual names, comments and demands, following, flashing, public masturbation, groping and stalking.
“Moreover, it addresses an important gap in our existing Sexual Harassment Law by penalizing peer-to-peer sexual harassment. This has been long-sought amendment by women’s rights advocates, in recognition of the inherent power relations between the male and female gender that can lead to oppressions and aggressions even between individuals of similar rank in the workplace.
Hontiveros said that 88% of women aged 18 to 24 years old experienced sexual harassment in the streets.
“Mr. President, our women and brothers and sisters in the LGBT community have a right to be protected in public spaces. Men and women should have the same opportunities to thrive within their cities and communities, and to have an active public life. Men and women have the right to feel safe in their workplaces. This cannot be possible if we constantly feel under threat of what lurks behind the shadows,” Hontiveros stated.