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Catcalling Is Now Illegal, Thanks to This Newly Signed "Bawal Bastos" Law

The Safe Spaces Act also bans and punishes other forms of gender-based harassment.
Catcalling Is Now Illegal, Thanks to This Newly Signed "Bawal Bastos" Law
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The Safe Spaces Act also bans and punishes other forms of gender-based harassment.

If you’ve ever been harassed, catcalled, or made uncomfortable while you were out in public, then here’s good news for you: Republic Act 11313, also known as the Safe Spaces Act or the “Bawal Bastos” Law, has been signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Although the Safe Spaces Act was signed in April 17, Malacañang only released the information to the public on Monday, July 15, with principal author and sponsor Senator Risa Hontiveros providing a copy of the law.

The law penalizes gender-based street and public spaces sexual harassment, defined as “unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person, regardless of the motive.”

These acts include the following:

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  • - cursing;
  • - wolf-whistling;
  • - catcalling;
  • - leering and intrusive gazing;
  • - taunting;
  • - misogynistic, transphobic, and homophobic slurs;
  • - relentless requests for one's personal details such as name, contact and social media details or destination;
  • - use of words, gestures or actions that ridicule on the basis of sex gender or sexual orientation, identity and/or expression;
  • - unwanted invitations;
  • - persistent telling of sexual jokes;
  • - use of sexual names, comments, and demands;
  • - any statement that has made an invasion on a person's personal space or threatens the person's sense of personal safety;
  • - public masturbation or flashing of private parts;
  • - groping;
  • - stalking;
  • - sexual advances and statements mentioned above coupled with pinching or brushing against the body of the offended person;
  • - touching, pinching, or brushing against the genitalia, face, arms, anus, groin, breasts, inner thighs, face, buttocks, or any part of the victim's body.

Aside from harassment done in public spaces, the law also penalizes online sexual harassment, including sexual advances in private messages. Other punishable acts of online harassment include:

  • - unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist remarks and comments online; whether publicly or through direct and private messages;
  • - invasion of victim's privacy through cyberstalking and incessant messaging;
  • - uploading and sharing without the consent of the victims, any form of media that contains photos, voice, or video with sexual content;
  • - unauthorized recording and sharing of any of the victim's photos, videos, or any information online;
  • - impersonating identities of victims online or posting lies about victims to harm their reputation;
  • - filing false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims.

Violators of the law will be fined P1000 to P100,000, and may be imprisoned for one month. Meanwhile, those found guilty of gender-based online harassment will be fined P100,000 to P500,000, or get the penalty of prison correccional in its medium period. 

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Local government units bear the “primary responsibility” of enforcing the law, and they are to pass their own ordinances based on the Safe Spaces Act.

The law also mandates the management of privately-owned establishments such as malls, bars, clubs, restaurants and other similar spaces to adopt a “zero-tolerance” policy, and to help victims coordinate with local police immediately after the harassment.

Schools, universities, and places of employment are ordered to create standard procedures for students, teachers, and employees to file their complaints.

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