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ZBB. Safe Spaces Act

1. CONCEPTS

The crimes of gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment – are committed through any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person regardless of the motive for committing such action or remarks. (Section 4, R.A. 11313, Safe Spaces Act)

“Gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment” – includes catcalling, wolf-whistling, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs, persistent uninvited comments or gestures on a person’s appearance, relentless requests for personal details, statement of sexual comments and suggestions, public masturbation or flashing of private parts, groping, or any advances, whether verbal or physical, that is unwanted and has threatened one’s sense of personal space and physical safety, and committed in public spaces such as alleys, roads, sidewalks and parks. Acts constitutive of gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment are those performed in buildings, schools, churches, restaurants, malls, public washrooms, bars, internet shops, public markets, transportation terminals or public utility vehicles. (Paragraph 2, Section 4, Ibid.)

PRIVATELY-OWNED PLACES OPEN TO THE PUBLIC: Restaurants, bars, cinemas, malls, buildings and other privately-owned places open to the public shall adopt a zero-tolerance policy against gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment. These establishments are obliged to provide assistance to victims of gender-based sexual harassment by coordinating with local police authorities immediately after gender-based sexual harassment is reported, making CCTV footage available when ordered by the court, and providing a safe gender-sensitive environment to encourage victims to report gender-based sexual harassment at the first instance. (Section 5, Ibid.)

SAME; WARNING SIGNS; ANTI-SEXUAL HARASSMENT OFFICER: All restaurants, bars, cinemas and other places of recreation shall install in their business establishments clearly-visible warning signs against gender-based public spaces sexual harassment, including the anti-sexual harassment hotline number in bold letters, and shall designate at least one (1) anti-sexual harassment officer to receive gender-based sexual harassment complaints. Security guards in these places may be deputized to apprehend perpetrators caught in flagrante delicto and are required to immediately coordinate with local authorities. (Paragraph 2, Section 5, Ibid.)

IN PUBLIC UTILITY VEHICLES: In addition to the penalties in this Act, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) may cancel the license of perpetrators found to have committed acts constituting sexual harassment in public utility vehicles, and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) may suspend or revoke the franchise of transportation operators who commit gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment acts. Gender-based sexual harassment in public utility vehicles (PUVs) where the perpetrator is the driver of the vehicle shall also constitute a breach of contract of carriage, for the purpose of creating a presumption of negligence on the part of the owner or operator of the vehicle in the selection and supervision of employees and rendering the owner or operator solidarity liable for the offenses of the employee. (Section 6, Ibid.)

GENDER-BASED SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN STREETS AND PUBLIC SPACES COMMITTED BY MINORS: In case the offense is committed by a minor, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) shall take necessary disciplinary measures as provided for under Republic Act No. 9344, otherwise known as the “Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006”.( Section 7, Ibid.)

2. CRIMES

a. Gender-based online sexual harassment

Gender-based online sexual harassment includes acts that use information and communications technology in terrorizing and intimidating victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats, 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 victim, any form of media that contains photos, voice, or video with sexual content, any 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, or filing, false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims. (Section 12, Ibid.)

EXCEPTION: Exemption to acts constitutive and penalized as gender-based online sexual harassment are authorized written orders of the court for any peace officer to use online records or any copy thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of the crime: Provided, That such written order shall only be issued or granted upon written application and the examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and the witnesses may produce, and upon showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that gender-based online sexual harassment has been committed or is about to be committed, and that the evidence to be obtained is essential to the conviction of any person for, or to the solution or prevention of such crime. (Paragraph 3, Section 14, Ibid.)

PENALTIES FOR GENDER-BASED ONLINE SEXUAL HARASSMENT: The penalty of prision correccional in its medium period or a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (₱100,000.00) but not more than Five hundred thousand pesos (₱500,000.00), or both, at the discretion of the court shall be imposed upon any person found guilty of any gender-based online sexual harassment. (Section 14, Ibid.)

SAME; IF JURIDICAL PERSON: If the perpetrator is a juridical person, its license or franchise shall be automatically deemed revoked, and the persons liable shall be the officers thereof, including the editor or reporter in the case of print media, and the station manager, editor and broadcaster in the case of broadcast media. An alien who commits gender-based online sexual harassment shall be subject to deportation proceedings after serving sentence and payment of fines. (Paragraph 2, Section 14, Ibid.)

INADMISSIBIILITY OF EVIDENCE: Any record, photo or video, or copy thereof of any person that is in violation of the preceding sections shall not be admissible in evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or investigation. (Paragraph 4, Section 14, Ibid.)

b. Qualified gender-based streets, public spaces and online sexual harassment

The penalty next higher in degree will be applied in the following cases:

1) If the act takes place in a common carrier or PUV, including, but not limited to, jeepneys, taxis, tricycles, or app-based transport network vehicle services, where the perpetrator is the driver of the vehicle and the offended party is a passenger;

2) If the offended party is a minor, a senior citizen, or a person with disability (PWD), or a breastfeeding mother nursing her child;

3) If the offended party is diagnosed with a mental problem tending to impair consent;

4) If the perpetrator is a member of the uniformed services, such as the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the act was perpetrated while the perpetrator was in uniform; and,

5) If the act takes place in the premises of a government agency offering frontline services to the public and the perpetrator is a government employee. (Section 15, Ibid.)

c. Gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace

The crime of gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace includes the following:

1) An act or series of acts involving any unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demand for sexual favors or any act of sexual nature, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems, that has or could have a detrimental effect on the conditions of an individual’s employment or education, job performance or opportunities;

2) A conduct of sexual nature and other conduct-based on sex affecting the dignity of a person, which is unwelcome, unreasonable, and offensive to the recipient, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems;

3) A conduct that is unwelcome and pervasive and creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment for the recipient: Provided, That the crime of gender-based sexual harassment may also be 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; and,

4) Information and communication system refers to a system for generating, sending, receiving, storing or otherwise processing electronic data messages or electronic documents and includes the computer system or other similar devices by or in which data are recorded or stored and any procedure related to the recording or storage of electronic data messages or electronic documents. (Section 16, Ibid.)

DUTIES OF EMPLOYERS: Employers or other persons of authority, influence or moral ascendancy in a workplace shall have the duty to prevent, deter, or punish the performance of acts of gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace. Towards this end, the employer or person of authority, influence or moral ascendancy shall:

1) Disseminate or post in a conspicuous place a copy of this Act to all persons in the workplace;

2) Provide measures to prevent gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace, such as the conduct of anti-sexual harassment seminars;

3) Create an independent internal mechanism or a committee on decorum and investigation to investigate and address complaints of gender-based sexual harassment which shall:

(a) Adequately represent the management, the employees from the supervisory rank, the rank-and-file employees, and the union, if any;

(b) Designate a woman as its head and not less than half of its members should be women;

(c) Be composed of members who should be impartial and not connected or related to the alleged perpetrator;

(d) Investigate and decide on the complaints within ten (10) days or less upon receipt thereof;

(e) Observe due process;

(f) Protect the complainant from retaliation; and

(g) Guarantee confidentiality to the greatest extent possible;

4) Provide and disseminate, in consultation with all persons in the workplace, a code of conduct or workplace policy which shall:

(a) Expressly reiterate the prohibition on gender-based sexual harassment;

(b) Describe the procedures of the internal mechanism created under Section 17(c) of this Act; and,

(c) Set administrative penalties. (Section 17, Ibid.)

DUTIES OF EMPLOYEES AND CO-WORKERS: Employees and co-workers shall have the duty to:

1) Refrain from committing acts of gender-based sexual harassment;

2) Discourage the conduct of gander-based sexual harassment in the workplace;

3) Provide emotional or social support to fellow employees, co-workers, colleagues or peers who are victims of gender-based sexual harassment; and,

4) Report acts of gender-based sexual harassment witnessed in the workplace. (Section 18, Ibid.)

LIABILITY OF EMPLOYERS: In addition to liabilities for committing acts of gender-based sexual harassment, employers may also be held responsible for:

1) Non-implementation of their duties under Section 17 of this Act, as provided in the penal provisions; or,

2) Not taking action on reported acts of gender-based sexual harassment committed in the workplace.

Any person who violates subsection (a) of this section, shall upon conviction, be penalized with a fine of not less than Five thousand pesos (₱5,000.00) nor more than Ten thousand pesos (₱10,000.00).

Any person who violates subsection (b) of this section, shall upon conviction, be penalized with a fine of not less than Ten thousand pesos (₱10,000.00) nor more than Fifteen thousand pesos (₱15,000.00). (Section 19, Ibid.)

d. Gender-based sexual harassment in educational and training institutions

All schools, whether public or private, shall designate an officer-in-charge to receive complaints regarding violations of this Act, and shall, ensure that the victims are provided with a gender-sensitive environment that is both respectful to the victims’ needs and conducive to truth-telling. (Section 21, Ibid.)

Every school must adopt and publish grievance procedures to facilitate the filing of complaints by students and faculty members. Even if an individual does not want to file a complaint or does not request that the school take any action on behalf of a student or faculty member and school authorities have knowledge or reasonably know about a possible or impending act of gender-based sexual harassment or sexual violence, the school should promptly investigate to determine the veracity of such information or knowledge and the circumstances under which the act of gender-based sexual harassment or sexual violence were committed, and take appropriate steps to resolve the situation. If a school knows or reasonably should know about acts of gender-based sexual harassment or sexual violence being committed that creates a hostile environment, the school must take immediate action to eliminate the same acts, prevent their recurrence, and address their effects. (Paragraph 2, Section 21, Ibid.)

Once a perpetrator is found guilty, the educational institution may reserve the right to strip the diploma from the perpetrator or issue an expulsion order. (Paragraph 3, Section 21, Ibid.)

The Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI) of all educational institutions shall address gender-based sexual harassment and online sexual harassment in accordance with the rules and procedures contained in their CODI manual. (Paragraph 4, Section 21, Ibid.)

3. LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS (LGUs)

DUTIES OF LGUs: Local government units (LGUs) shall bear primary responsibility in enforcing the provisions under Article I of this Act. LGUs shall have the following duties:

1) Pass an ordinance which shall localize the applicability of this Act within sixty (60) days of its effectivity;

2) Disseminate or post in conspicuous places a copy of this Act and the corresponding ordinance;

3) Provide measures to prevent gender-based sexual harassment in educational institutions, such as information campaigns and anti-sexual harassment seminars;

4) Discourage and impose fines on acts of gender-based sexual harassment as defined in this Act;

5) Create an anti-sexual harassment hotline; and

6) Coordinate with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the implementation of this Act. (Section 8, Ibid.)

ROLE OF THE DILG: The DILG shall ensure the full implementation of this Act by:

1) Inspecting LGUs if they have disseminated or posted in conspicuous places a copy of this Act and the corresponding ordinance;

2) Conducting and disseminating surveys and studies on best practices of LGUs in implementing this Act; and

3) Providing capacity-building and training activities to build the capability of local government officials to implement this Act in coordination with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). the Local Government Academy (LGA) and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP). (Section 9, Ibid.)

4. PENALTIES

a. Specific acts and penalties for gender-based sexual harassment in streets and public spaces

The following acts are unlawful and shall be penalized as follows:

1) For acts such as cursing, wolf-whistling, catcalling, leering and intrusive gazing, taunting, pursing, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs, persistent unwanted comments on one’s appearance, relentless requests for one’s personal details such as name, contact and social media details or destination, the use of words, gestures or actions that ridicule on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, identity and/or expression including sexist, homophobic, and transphobic statements and slurs, the persistent telling of sexual jokes, use of sexual names, comments and demands, and any statement that has made an invasion on a person’s personal space or threatens the person’s sense of personal safety –

(a) The first offense shall be punished by a fine of One thousand pesos (₱1,000.00) and community service of twelve (12) hours inclusive of attendance to a Gender Sensitivity Seminar to be conducted by the PNP in coordination with the LGU and the PCW;

(b) The second offense shall be punished by arresto menor (6 to 10 days) or a fine of Three thousand pesos (₱3,000.00);

(c) The third offense shall be punished by arresto menor (11 to 30 days) and a fine of Ten thousand pesos (₱10,000.00). (Section 11[a], Ibid.)

2) For acts such as making offensive body gestures at someone, and exposing private parts for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator with the effect of demeaning, harassing, threatening or intimidating the offended party including flashing of private parts, public masturbation, groping, and similar lewd sexual actions –

(a) The first offense shall he punished by a fine of Ten thousand pesos (₱10,000.00) and community service of twelve (12) hours inclusive of attendance to a Gender Sensitivity Seminar, to be conducted by the PNP in coordination with the LGU and the PCW;

(b) The second offense shall be punished by arresto menor (11 to 30 days) or a fine of Fifteen thousand pesos (₱15,000.00);

(c) The third offense shall be punished by arresto mayor (1 month and 1 day to 6 months) and a fine of Twenty thousand pesos (₱20,000.00). (Section 11[b], Ibid.)

3) For acts such as stalking, and any of the acts mentioned for Nos. 1 and 2, when accompanied by touching, pinching or brushing against the body of the offended person; or any touching, pinching, or brushing against the genitalia, face, arms, anus, groin, breasts, inner thighs, face, buttocks or any part of the victim’s body even when not accompanied by acts mentioned for Nos. 1 and 2 –

(a) The first offense shall be punished by arresto menor (11 to 30 days) or a line of Thirty thousand pesos (₱30,000.00), provided that it includes attendance in a Gender Sensitivity Seminar, to be conducted by the PNP in coordination with the LGU and the PCW;

(b) The second offense shall be punished by arresto mayor (1 month and 1 day to 6 months) or a fine of Fifty thousand pesos (₱50,000.00);

(c) The third offense shall be punished by arresto mayor in its maximum period or a fine of One hundred thousand pesos (₱100,000.00). (Section 11[c], Ibid.)

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