Don’t Let Harassment Fade Into The Background: Senate Bill 1326 “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017”

Written by: Friah Danisca L. Pagaduan

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An overwhelming 88% of women aged 18 to 24 years old experience sexual harassment in streets and public spaces every day. Street harassment is a daily reality for a tremendous number of Filipino women and LGBTs. It is inherent in the modern Filipino culture when you’re a woman or a transvestite, streets are dangerous. Street taboos, over the years, has somehow turned into a norm that one cannot easily avoid; it has always been there, along with the busy streets of the country, instilled in the mind of the people trying to ignore such disquieting advances. There are no laws or bills that distinctively address this concern, until recently, it has been recognized as ‘harassment’ and an infringement of the women and LGBTs’ rights (or human rights for that matter); Senator Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros- Baraquel specifically addressed this malaise: the Senate Bill no. 1326 or the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017 is an act predominantly for the safety of women and LGBTs in streets, public spaces and other areas stated in the sections.

It is the duty of the government to protect and value the dignity of every citizen and guarantee full respect for the right of every Filipino, recognize the role of women in nation-building and secure fundamental equality for both men and women before the law. There are numerous cases of sexual harassment all around the country, 58% of these cases happened along the streets, alleys, public vehicles and washrooms, schools, workplace and other public areas. Many Filipinos are oblivious about the effects of street taboos to the victims; the United Nations Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Program stated that harassment in public spaces indubitably reduces the victims’ ability to participate in school, work and public life. It also blocks the victims’ access to essential services and their enjoyment, and causes unfavorable impact to their health and well-being.

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Street harassment impedes the freedom of movement of Filipinas and LGBTs, and thus it affects their daily productivity. Common cases of street harassment are wolf-whistling and cat-calling, which ‘normally’ happens along the streets and public areas. Other forms of harassment are lascivious language, stalking, rubbing and touching, indecent gestures, exhibitionism and public masturbation. All these disrupt the sense of security in every woman and LGBT, but the promulgation of the act would end these taboos.

Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017 is an act defining gender-based street and public spaces harassment, providing protective measures and prescribing penalties therefor, and for other purposes. This is mainly for the benefit of women and LGBTs who are the most vulnerable to these threats. The bill provides penalties against gender-based street and public spaces harassment such as undesired comments, gestures and actions constrained on a person in a public place. It includes but not limited to cursing or name calling, wolf-whistling, cat-calling, sexist, homophobic and transphobic innuendos, leering, insistent requests of the person’s name, phone number and destination even after refusal, persistent sharing of sexual jokes, use of sexual names, demands, following and/or stalking, flashing, groping, public masturbation and all resembling cases of sexual harassment and/or assault.

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The specific acts and penalties are stated in section 4. There are three levels of violations; light, medium and severe violations.

Under the light violations are cursing or name calling, wolf-whistling, cat-calling, sexist, homophobic and transphobic innuendos, leering, insistent requests of the person’s name, phone number and destination even after refusal, persistent sharing of sexual jokes, and using of words intended to ridicule a person of actual or perceived gender. The first offense shall be punished by a fine of Php 1000.00 and/or community service for eight hours inclusive of Gender Sensitivity Seminar conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). Second offense shall be punished by 6 to 10 days arresto menor or a fine of Php 2000.00. The third offense punishment is 11 to 30 days arresto menor or a fine of Php 3000.00

The act of offensive gestures, exposing private parts for the sexual satisfaction of the offender, with the effect of demeaning, harassing, threatening, or intimidating the offended are all under the medium violations. The first offense shall be punished by a fine of Php 3000.00 and/or an eight hour community service also inclusive of Gender Sensitivity Seminar. The perpetrator shall pay a fine of Php 4000.00 on the second offense or an arresto menor of 11 to 30 days. On the third offense, the perpetrator shall be punished by a fine of Php 5000.00 or 1 to 6 months arresto mayor.

Severe violations include stalking, all light and medium violations if accompanied by touching, pinching or brushing against the body of the offended, or any analogous acts on the sensitive and private parts of the offended even when not accompanied by the light and/or medium violations. First offense shall be punished by an arresto menor for 11 to 30 days or a fine of Php 4000.00, provided that it includes attendance in Gender Sensitivity Seminar by the PNP and PCW. The second offense punishment is 30 days to 6 months arresto mayor or Php 5000.00. Arresto mayor for 1 to 6 six months or a fine of Php 10,000.00 on the third offense.

Authorities will apprehend perpetrators of gender-based street and public harassment. Local units of PNP all over the country will deputize enforcers as Anti Sexual Harassment Enforcers (A-SHEs). They will serve as the deputies that will receive complaints on the street and will immediately apprehend the offenders. A-SHEs may immediately issue orders for community service or impose the fines for light and medium violations. Women and Children’s Desk of PNP stations will keep a ledger of these offenders to determine the number of offenses done.

This act shall be effective 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette, and the streets will never be dangerous any longer. Filipino society should leave androcentrism behind, public areas should be safe for everyone.

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SPARK and McCann, a Global Advertising Network, Advocate for Safer Streets and Public Spaces

SPOTIFY

 

Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran Inc. (SPARK) together with McCann Erickson developed a public service ad (PSA) in support of the bill which hopes to make women and LGBT persons feel safer. Protected from harassment in the streets and public spaces.

According to recent studies, digital audio listeners are making more and more time to consume audio content. They are listening across multiple devices, at work, rest and play. Spotify is used as a platform for the PSA since it is “highly influential” in the daily lives of Filipino commuters.

Click the play button and listen:

 

SPARK launches LIPAD Pinay with Seaoil Foundation and QC Office of Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte

SPARK in partnership with Seaoil Foundation Inc. and the Quezon City Office of the Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte launched a project that hopes to uplift the life of Juana-LIPAD Pinay (Local Inclusiveness Project for the Advancement and Development of Filipino Women).

17457594_669178059873752_6435651600654681356_nFrom L-R: Jess Lorenzo (SFI Executive Director), Mark Yu (SFI President), Therese Fernandez-Ruiz (Rags2Riches Inc. President), Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, Emmeline Verzosa (Philippine Commission on Women Executive Director), Boots Garcia (SPARK Trustee and Secretary-Treasurer).

Women Empowerment and Gender Equality as priority agendas of the project partners, LIPAD Pinay aims to implement the provisions of the Magna Carta of Women and capacitates government (specifically the 8 barangays in Quezon City) to respond to gender and women’s rights issues.

The overall project goal is improved access, provision and control to resources, opportunities, and benefits and create an enabling environment to sustain and grow women-led micro and small enterprises through GAD mainstreaming strategy in the Barangay level.

During the launch, two distinguished speakers were invited, women champions and equality advocates: Philippine Commission on Women Executive Director, Ms Emmeline Verzosa and Rags2Riches, Inc. (R2R) President and Co-Founder, Ms Therese Fernandez-Ruiz. In Director Verzosa opening remarks, she spoke about the mainstreaming Gender in development and how the government encourages gender-responsiveness to all its branches. As the keynote speaker, Ms Ruiz infused creativity in her presentation to invoke inspiration to all the beneficiaries through her story as a social entrepreneur and the lives of women R2R transformed.

17425822_669178049873753_4538164588293721321_nIn the photo: Ms Reese Ruiz, shared the success of Rags2Riches and how it changed the lives of women in Payatas.

Boots Garcia, (SPARK Secretary-Treasurer) Mark Yu, President (Seaoil Foundation Inc.) and Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, professed their commitment as project partners and hopes to achieve sustainability of LIPAD Pinay.

Barangay leaders and members of the Gender Focal Point System from 8 Barangays in Quezon City, including project stakeholders attended the launch of LIPAD Pinay.

SPARK Director speaks at UN CSW 61

Dr. Jenny Lind Elmaco, SPARK Executive Director, joins representatives of Member States, UN entities, and ECOSOC-accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world to the sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Coming off as an academic scholar of Peace and Conflict Transformation, Dr. Elmaco joins a panel of experts in a discourse on addressing the needs of women and children in emergency situations.

Likhang Pilipina SPARK! Women’s Marketplace – A Platform for Budding Filipina Entrepreneurs

23 November 2016 – The MoU signing of the Likhang Pilipina SPARK! Women’s Marketplace. It was attended by valued stakeholders of the project: Vice Mayor of Quezon City, Hon. Josefina “Joy” G. Belmonte; Department of Trade and Industry, represented by Ms Emma C. Asusano; and The Araneta Center represented by Mr. Emmanuel C. Fabian.

Ms. Victoria Garchitorena, Founder of Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran Inc. (SPARK) and Ms. Zorayda Mel Alonzo, SPARK President and the Lead Trustee of Likhang Pilipina, lead the MoU Signing.

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9 October 2016 – Likhang Pilipina SPARK! Women’s Marketplace was launched at the 3rd floor of Ali Mall, Araneta Center, Cubao Quezon City. Partners from the Office of Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, the Department of Trade and Industry, and The Araneta Group attended the event. Senator Risa Hontiveros was the guest of honor.

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The Likhang Pilipina SPARK! Women’s Marketplace aims expand the knowledge of women entrepreneurs on business strategies and practices while assisting them in identifying potential partners and resources that they need to scale up their small enterprises into successful businesses.

VP Leni with SPARK celebrate the International Day of the Girl 2016

The United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 to declare October 11 as the International Day of a Girl Child, a day that focuses on recognising girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world. This October 11, 2016 SPARK celebrated the International Day of the Girl Child with Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and alongside other partners.

The celebration was attended by the SPARK board of trustees and members, members of the international community, staunch supporters of women’s rights and empowerment from the government, private sector and civil society, and 450 school girls from Quezon City.

img_9734[From L – R] Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia, SPARK Secretary-Treasurer: Rebecca Dixon, Gender Specialist of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID): Ronna Reyes Sieh, SPARK Trustee: Zorayda Amelia Alonzo, SPARK President: Joy Belmonte, Vice Mayor of Quezon City: H.E. Amanda Gorely, Ambassador of Australia to the Philippines: Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines: Imelda Nicolas, SPARK Trustee: Maria Isabel Quimson, SPARK Trustee: Phyllis Stimson, Gender Coordinator of the Political Section, U.S. Embassy: Geraldo Regalado, Vice Consul of the Embassy of Mexico in the Philippines.

Vice President Leni Robredo, our keynote speaker, outlined in her speech that women empowerment in the Philippines can be strengthened by empowering girls to be “taught how to value themselves” from a young age. VP Leni stressed the importance of this because “it is not something that you can teach overnight. It’s something that has to grow in each and every one of our girls, who will soon turn into women”.

dsc_0292Keynote speaker, Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines, Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo

VP Leni also emphasised that advocating for women empowerment “is not a fight against men and women” but “a fight for equal treatment for both genders”.

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 SPARK Secretary-Treasurer, Ma. Aurora “Boots” Geotina-Garcia; Zorayda Amelia Alonzo, SPARK President; Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo; SPARK Board of Trustees: Imelda Nicolas and Ma. Isabel Quimson.

Our other speakers for the event comprised of members from the international community, Her Excellency Amanda Gorely, Ambassador of Australia to the Philippines; Phyllis Stinson, Gender Equality Program Coordinator from the political section of the U.S Embassy Manila; Rebecca Dixon, Gender Specialist from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation. As a response to the stories shown from the Girl Rising film, they provided their expertise whilst speaking about the importance of girls rights.

dsc_0421Speakers receive certificates of appreciation from SPARK Board of Trustees
[From L – R] H.E. Amanda Gorely, Ambassador of Australia to the Philippines: Ma. Isabel Quimson, SPARK Board of Trustee: Rebecca Dixon, Gender Specialist of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID): Imelda Nicolas, SPARK Board of Trustee: Phyllis Stimson, Gender Coordinator of the Political Section, U.S. Embassy: Zorayda Amelia Alonzo, SPARK President.

Alongside these speakers were SPARK President, Zorayda Amelia Alonzo, and SPARK Secretary-Treasurer, Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia. Zorayda Amelia Alonzo gave the welcoming remarks, highlighting that the celebration is for the girls in our country and nationwide. Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia, SPARK Secretary-Treasurer, gave the closing remarks, thanking everyone for being part of this revolution for girls.

[From L – R] Zorayda Amelia Alonzo, SPARK President, gives her welcoming remarks: Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia, SPARK Secretary-Treasurer, gives her closing remarks.

 We would like to thank our event co-organizers; Office of Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, J. Amado Araneta Foundation, Araneta Center, and Cineplex 10; Our event partners; Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG), Chicano Development Corporation, ACM Landholdings, Inc.; and sponsors; PHINMA Energy, PLDT Home, Holly’s Milk, Gee Whiz Girls, Dimaculangan Dimaculangan and Co. CPAs, Emmanuel C. Alcantara & Associates Law Offices, and Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles, for their support in aiding the event to be a success.

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VP Leni Robredo with SPARK celebrate International Day of the Girl 2016

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Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, together with SPARK! will lead the annual celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child (IDG2016) on October 11, 2016 at Gateway Mall Cubao, Quezon City.

IDG 2016 is a one-day activity that will feature talks from advocates of girls’ education and women empowerment, and the official screening of the documentary “Girl Rising”.

This International celebration recognizes girls’ rights and examines as well the unique challenges girls face around the world. In pursuit of our goal to empower women and to achieve gender equality, this year’s celebration will highlight the importance of social, economic, and political investment in the power of adolescent girls as fundamental to breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination towards achieving equitable and sustainable development outcomes.

IDG 2016 is in partnership with Gateway Cineplex 10, J.Amado Araneta Foundation, Araneta Center, and the Office of the Vice Mayor of Quezon City-Joy Belmonte is brought to you by: Pag-IBIG Fund, Chicano Development Corporation. and AMC Landholdings, Inc. Sponsored by: Phinma Energy, PLDT, Dimaculangan and Co. CPAs, Emmanuel C Alcantara & Associates Law Offices, Holly’s Milk, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & De Los Angeles, and ABS-CBN.

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You can watch us online on our Facebook page. The Celebration of the International Day of the Girl is live on October 11, 2016 – Tuesday – 9:00 AM Manila Time on https://www.facebook.com/SparkPhilippinesInc/?fref=ts. Share your thoughts by using our hashtags: #DayoftheGirl #IDG2016