It's an unnerving feeling, having someone call you out only to see if you'll notice or react, to see if they've got the power to make you do even the slightest thing. They grab your attention not because they care about you but simply because they want the validation, they made you look and they like looking at you.
In some cases the context varies, but we all know the side-effects of cat-calling when we experience it. In most cases, it makes you feel unsafe, disrespected, and objectified. Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros, a beautiful, brilliant woman no less, is trying to pass a bill that widens the definitions of punishable sexual harrassment and recognizes the social implications of cat-calling on women locally in particular.
“The development of girls and our women do not happen in isolation. The entire community must work together for safe spaces in order to nurture an environment where everyone can develop their potential without fear and insecurity. Harassment has adverse impacts on health and well-being. Safe spaces move our communities forward."
- Risa Hontiveros, taken from her official statement
Here is a glimpse of the following penalties on sexual-harrassment that are being proposed:
Light Violations — Cursing, Wolf-whistling, cat calling, leering, persistent requests for name and contact details and also the use of words intending to ridicule... with more details defining the form of ridicule outlined in the bill. These light violations may be penalized for a fine of P1,000 and/or 8 hours of community service inclusive of a Gender Sensitivity seminar. More details are outlined in the proposed bill. For second or third light violations, the fine increases and imprisonment for up to six months is possible.
Medium Violations — Making offensive body gestures at someone or exposing the unmentionable for sexual gratification to demean, harrass, threaten, or intimidate those offended warrants fines of minimum of P3,000 upwards and/or 8 hours of community service inclusive of a Gender Sensitivity seminar and up to six months imprisonment.
Severe Violations — This includes stalking, touching, pinching. or brushing against the body of offended and specific body areas mentioned that affect the offended as mentioned in the bill, and these will be considered offenses even if not accompanied by acts mentioned above in the Light and Medium violations. These offenses warrant fines from P4,000 up to P10,000 and arrest is possible from second and third severe violations.
It is a comfort to know that certain efforts are being made to ensure the peace of mind, safety, and well-being of local citizens, there are mixed reactions on the importance and value of this bill being proposed, perhaps you'd like to form your opinion and see the law that might be passed.
All the details of the actual proposed bill are available for viewing here at this link. The press statement and advocacy of Senator Risa Hontiveros regarding this matter is viewable here.
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Photographs from Senator Risa Hontiveros' Facebook page and Unsplash.com