by: Ana Katrina Bianca W. Remoto and Garcela A. Villalobos (USLS, JD1)
“If indeed gender-based harassment can ruin the lives of the victims, one therefore has to take a serious look at its negative impact and how the Local Government Units and responsible authorities make Negros Occidental a safe space for every constituent in each of the cities and municipalities.“
Sexual harassment has become an epidemic in the workplace, in academic institutions, in public places, on social media platforms and anywhere or everywhere else across the globe. It is evident that there exist inequalities between men and women, the physically challenged or disabled and the LGBTQ+. Everyone regardless of age, gender, status and physical condition should be treated fairly. There should be no place for any kind of discrimination, harassment or violence in a truly democratic country.
More and more women, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ+ community are now part of the workforce and in the academe. Because of free tertiary education, more and more students, both male and female are pursuing their respective degrees. Hence, this vulnerable group of individuals are prone to experience and/or are experiencing sexual harassment as they work and learn.
Research shows that the sexual harassment, unsolicited attention and detrimental experiences these vulnerable groups have been subjected to have raised a great interest among legislators, women’s groups and interested parties, most especially with regard to the eventual impact the aforesaid discriminatory behaviors have ruined their personal and family relations, respective careers, educational ambitions and/or their lives as a whole.
Negros Occidental, one of the six (6) provinces in Region VI, is a beautiful province in the northwestern portion of Negros Island known as the sugar capital of the Philippines. It is a place where people from all walks of life can wander freely, work harmoniously, and live peacefully. It is gifted with peace-loving people, fertile soil, abundant seafoods, and booming industries. These are some of the reasons why entrepreneurs and companies from neighboring islands chose to open their businesses here. As a result, job opportunities abound the province, especially in its capital, Bacolod City. The establishment of business opportunities in the locality has offered challenging and rewarding jobs not only to men but also to women and the minority groups as well.
Recently, gender-based friendly companies are now proliferating in the country. According to the Inclusive Workplace Project as reported by the Business World, Accenture, Convergys, Shell Philippines, Avon, Burger King, Coca Cola and many others are among the long list of LGBT-friendly companies in the Philippines. These companies are operating in Negros Occidental and have created a supportive space for a number of women, the LGBTQ+ community, and persons with disabilities.
“Negrenses” are known to be sweet and amiable. Despite the goodness of majority of the inhabitants, some chose not to be. Harassment is still one of the lingering problems happening to anyone, at anytime and anywhere. It can possibly be done by anyone, such as politicians, radio hosts, employers, co-workers, teachers, classmates, bystanders, church workers, friends, relatives or other professionals, to name a few.
The Western University of Canada formulated policies and procedures on gender-based harassment and in their policy, they clearly defined gender-based harassment as a form of sexual harassment which involves any behavior that reinforces heteronormative gender roles such as making gender-related comments about a person’s appearance or mannerism, treating a person badly because they don’t fit stereotypic gender roles, bullying, and catcalling, among others.
Victims of gender-based harassment do not have the same coping mechanisms. Some take it too lightly, but others take it too seriously and can even bring total damage to one’s own life. If indeed gender-based harassment can ruin the lives of the victims, one therefore has to take a serious look at its negative impact and how the Local Government Units and responsible authorities make Negros Occidental a safe space for every constituent in each of the cities and municipalities.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE, LAWS AND STUDIES
Related Local Laws, Statutes and Jurisprudence
Republic Act No. 11313 is also known as the Safe Spaces Act. It is an act defining gender-based sexual harassment in streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational or training institutions. This Act also provides protective measures and prescribe penalties.
Enumerated below are excerpts of the different selected sections provided in the Safe Spaces Act:
Section 2. Declaration of Policies. -It is the policy of the State to value the dignity of every human person and guarantee full respect for human rights. It is likewise the policy of the State to recognize the role of women in nation-building and ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men. The State also recognizes that both men and women must have equality, security and safety not only in private, but also on the streets, public spaces, online, workplaces and educational and training institutions.
Section 3. Definition of Terms. -As used in this Act:
- Catcalling refers to unwanted remarks directed towards a person, commonly done in the form of wolf- whistling and misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, and sexist slurs;
- Employee refers to a person, who in exchange for remuneration, agrees to perform specified services for another person, whether natural or juridical, and whether private or public, who exercises fundamental control over the work, regardless of the term or duration of agreement: Provided, That for the purposes of this law, a person who is detailed to an entity under a subcontracting or secondment agreement shall be considered an employee;
- Employer refers to a person who exercises control over an employee: Provided, That for the purpose of this Act, the status or conditions of the latter’s employment or engagement shall be disregarded;
- Gender refers to a set of socially ascribed characteristics, norms, roles, attitudes, values and expectations identifying the social behavior of men and women, and the relations between them;
- Gender-based online sexual harassment refers to an online conduct targeted at a particular person that causes or likely to cause another mental, emotional or psychological distress, and fear of personal safety, sexual harassment acts including unwanted sexual remarks and comments, threats, uploading or sharing of one’s photos without consent, video and audio recordings, cyberstalking and online identity theft;
- Gender identity and/or expression refers to the personal sense of identity as characterized, among others, by manner of clothing, inclinations, and behavior in relation to masculine or feminine conventions. A person may have a male or female identity with physiological characteristics of the opposite sex in which case this person is considered transgender:
- Public spaces refer to streets and alleys, public parks, schools, buildings, malls, bars, restaurants, transportation terminals, public markets, spaces used as evacuation centers, government offices, public utility vehicles as well as private vehicles covered by app-based transport network services and other recreational spaces such as, but not limited to, cinema halls, theaters and spas; and
- Stalking refers to conduct directed at a person involving the repeated visual or physical proximity, non- consensual communication, or a combination thereof that cause or will likely cause a person to fear for one’s own safety or the safety of others, or to suffer emotional distress.
GENDER-BASED STREETS AND PUBLIC SPACES SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Section 4. Gender-Based Streets and Public Spaces Sexual Harassment. -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.
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.
Section 5. Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in Restaurants and Cafes, Bars and Clubs, Resorts and Water Parks, Hotels and Casinos, Cinemas, Malls, Buildings and Other 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.
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.
Section 6. Gender-Based Sexual Harassment 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 7. 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”.
GENDER-BASED ONLINE SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Section 12. 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.
QUALIFIED GENDER-BASED STREETS, PUBLIC SPACES ONLINE SEXUAL HARASSMENT
Section 15. Qualified Gender-Based Streets, Public Spaces and Online Sexual Harassment. -The penalty next higher in degree will be applied in the following cases:
(a) 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;
(b) If the offended party is a minor, a senior citizen, or a person with disability (PWD), or a breastfeeding mother nursing her child;
(c) If the offended party is diagnosed with a mental problem tending to impair consent;
(d) 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
(e) 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.
GENDER-BASED SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE
Section 16. Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. -The crime of gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace includes the following:
(a) 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;
(b) 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;
(c) 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
(d) 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 17. 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:
(a) Disseminate or post in a conspicuous place a copy of this Act to all persons in the workplace;
(b) Provide measures to prevent gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace, such as the conduct of anti-sexual harassment seminars;
(c) Create an independent internal mechanism or a committee on decorum and investigation to investigate and address complaints of gender-based sexual harassment which shall:
- Adequately represent the management, the employees from the supervisory rank, the rank-and-file employees, and the union, if any;
- Designate a woman as its head and not less than half of its members should be women;
- Be composed of members who should be impartial and not connected or related to the alleged perpetrator;
- Investigate and decide on the complaints within ten (10) days or less upon receipt thereof;
- Observe due process;
- Protect the complainant from retaliation; and
- Guarantee confidentiality to the greatest extent possible;
(d) Provide and disseminate, in consultation with all persons in the workplace, a code of conduct or workplace policy which shall:
- Expressly reiterate the prohibition on gender-based sexual harassment;
- Describe the procedures of the internal mechanism created under Section 17(c) of this Act; and
- Set administrative penalties.
Section 18. Duties of Employees and Co-Workers. -Employees and co-workers shall have the duty to:
(a) Refrain from committing acts of gender-based sexual harassment;
(b) Discourage the conduct of gander-based sexual harassment in the workplace;
(c) Provide emotional or social support to fellow employees, co-workers, colleagues or peers who are victims of gender-based sexual harassment; and
(d) Report acts of gender-based sexual harassment witnessed in the workplace.
Section 19. Liability of Employers.— In addition to liabilities for committing acts of gender-based sexual harassment, employers may also be held responsible for:
(a) Non-implementation of their duties under Section 17 of this Act, as provided in the penal provisions; or
(b) Not taking action on reported acts of gender-based sexual harassment committed in the workplace.
Section 20. Routine Inspection. -The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the private sector and the Civil Service Commission (CSC) for the public sector shall conduct yearly spontaneous inspections to ensure compliance of employers and employees with their obligations under this Act.
GENDER-BASED SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN EDUCATIONAL AND TRAINING INSTITUTIONS
Section 21. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Section 22. Duties of School Heads. -School heads shall have the following duties:
(a) Disseminate or post a copy of this Act in a conspicuous place in the educational institution;
(b) Provide measures to prevent gender-based sexual harassment in educational institutions, like information campaigns;
(c) Create an independent internal mechanism or a CODI to investigate and address complaints of gender- based sexual harassment which shall
- Adequately represent the school administration, the trainers, instructors, professors or coaches and students or trainees, students and parents, as the case may be;
- Designate a woman as its head and not less than half of its members should be women;
- Ensure equal representation of persons of diverse sexual orientation, identity and/or expression, in the CODI as far as practicable;
- Be composed of members who should be impartial and not connected or related to the alleged perpetrator;
- Investigate and decide on complaints within ten (10) days or less upon receipt, thereof;
- Observe due process;
- Protect the complainant from retaliation; and
- Guarantee confidentiality to the greatest extent possible.
(d) Provide and disseminate, in consultation with all persons in the educational institution, a code of conduct or school policy which shall:
- Expressly reiterate the prohibition on gender-based sexual harassment;
- Prescribe the procedures of the internal mechanism created under this Act; and
- Set administrative penalties.
Section 23. Liability of School Heads.— In addition to liability for committing acts of gender-based sexual harassment, principals, school heads, teachers, instructors, professors, coaches, trainers, or any odier person who has authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in an educational or training institution may also be held responsible for:
(a) Non-implementation of their duties under Section 22 of this Act, as provided in the penal provisions; or
(b) Failure to act on reported acts of gender-based sexual harassment committed in the educational institution.
Section 24. Liability of Students.— Minor students who are found to have committed acts of gender-based sexual harassment shall only be held liable for administrative sanctions by the school as stated in their school handbook.
Section 25. Routine Inspection.— The Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) shall conduct regular spontaneous inspections to ensure compliance of school heads with their obligations under this Act.
Section 26. Confidentiality.— At any stage of the investigation, prosecution and trial of an offense under this Act, the rights of the victim and the accused who is a minor shall be recognized.
Section 27. Restraining Order.— Where appropriate, the court, even before rendering a final decision, may issue an order directing the perpetrator to stay away from the offended person at a distance specified by the court, or to stay away from the residence, school, place of employment, or any specified place frequented by the offended person.
Section 28. Remedies and Psychological Counselling.— A victim of gender-based street, public spaces or online sexual harassment may avail of appropriate remedies as provided for under the law as well as psychological counselling services with the aid of the LGU and the DSWD, in coordination with the DOH and the PCW. Any fees to be charged in the course of a victim’s availment of such remedies or psychological counselling services shall be borne by the perpetrator.
Section 29. Administrative Sanctions.— Above penalties are without prejudice to any administrative sanctions that may be imposed if the perpetrator is a government employee.
Section 30. Imposition of Heavier Penalties.— Nothing in this Act shall prevent LGUs from coming up with ordinances that impose heavier penalties for the acts specified herein.
Section 31. Exemptions.— Acts that are legitimate expressions of indigenous culture and tradition, as well as breastfeeding in public shall not be penalized.
Section 32. PNP Women and Children’s Desks.— The women and children’s desks now existing in all police stations shall act on and attend to all complaints covered under this Act. They shall coordinate with ASHE officers on the street, security guards in privately-owned spaces open to the public, and anti-sexual harassment officers in government and private offices or schools in the enforcement of the provisions of this Act.
Section 33. Educational Modules and Awareness Campaigns.— The PCW shall take the lead in a national campaign for the awareness of the law. The PCW shall work hand-in-hand with the DILG and duly accredited women’s groups to ensure all LGUs participate in a sustained information campaign and the DICT to ensure an online campaign that reaches a wide audience of Filipino internet-users. Campaign materials may include posters condemning different forms of gender-based sexual harassment, informing the public of penalties for committing gender-based sexual harassment, and infographics of hotline numbers of authorities.
All schools shall educate students from the elementary to tertiary level about the provisions of this Act and how they can report cases of gender-based streets, public spaces and online sexual harassment committed against them. School courses shall include age-appropriate educational modules against gender-based streets, public spaces and online sexual harassment which shall be developed by the DepEd, the CHED, the TESDA and the PCW.
Local Government Units are mandated to promote the general welfare of their constituents as prescribed by the Local Government Code of 1991 or R.A. No. 7160. Thus, the issuance of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Joint Memorandum (JMC) No. 2020-001 dated December 7, 2020 which was released to provide guidelines on the localization of the Safe Spaces Act and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, particularly the provisions on Gender-Based Sexual Harassment (GBHS) in streets and public spaces. The following are excerpts on the background of this said circular, its purpose, scope and coverage, definitions, policy content and guidelines, institutional arrangements and quote:
- 1 Since 1995, sexual harassment in the Philippines has been specifically prohibited under RA No. 7877, otherwise known as the “Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995.” However, the definition of sexual harassment under this law was limited and covered only the acts committed in work, education, and training-related environments. Further, it does not penalize the acts sexual harassment committed in many other spaces, such as on the streets, in restaurants and malls, public utility vehicles, and other public spaces.
- 2 The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights. It is likewise the policy of the state to recognize the role of women in nation-building and ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men. The state also recognizes that both men and women must have equality, security, and safety not only in private spaces but also in public spaces.
- 3 Sexual harassment as a form of gender-based violence, seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedom on a basis of equality with men. Sexual harassment in streets and public spaces will not be tolerated by the State as it violates the dignity and human right of a person.
- 4 The passage of RA No. 11313 otherwise known as the Safe Spaces Act (SSA) expands the law on sexual harassment in the country to cover all of its forms including verbal, non-verbal and physical. Further, it seeks to secure all persons, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression, from all kinds of gender-based violence and discrimination such as sexual harassment, not only in private spaces but also in public spaces.
This Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) is hereby issued to provide guidelines on the localization of the Safe Spaces Act and its IRR, particularly the provisions on GBSH in streets and public spaces
3. SCOPE AND COVERAGE
This JMC shall cover all Provincial Governors, City and Municipal Mayors, Punong Barangays, Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Barangay, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister, the BARMM Minister of Local Government Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Directors and Field Officers, and others concerned
4.1 Anti-Sexual Harassment (ASH) Desk -a physical facility, managed by an ASH officer, where victim-survivors of sexual harassment can immediately go to seek assistance.
4.2 ASH Hotline – a communication link in which calls or reports of GBSH in streets and public spaces are directed to the service providers.
4.3 Community service consists of any actual physical activity which inculcates civic consciousness and is intended towards the improvement of a public work or promotion of a public service.
4.4 Gender refers to a set of socially ascribed characteristics, norms, roles, attitudes, values, and expectations identifying the social behavior of men and women, and the relations between them.
4.5 Gender identity and/or expression refers to the personal sense of identity as characterized, among others, by manner of clothing, inclinations, and behavior in relation to masculine or feminine conventions. A person may have a male or female identity with physiological characteristics of the opposite sex or may have been assigned a particular sex at birth but who identifies with the opposite sex or may have an identity that does not correspond to one’s sex assigned at birth or to one’s primary or secondary sex characteristics, in which case this person is considered transgender.
4.6 Gender-based streets and public spaces sexual harassment is an act committed in streets and public spaces through any unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person regardless of the motive for committing such action or remarks.
4.7 Public spaces refer to streets and alleys, roads, sidewalks, public parks, buildings, schools, churches, public washrooms, malls, internet shops, restaurants and cafes, transportation terminals, public markets, spaces used as evacuation centers, government offices, common carriers, PUVs as well as private vehicles covered by app-based transport network services, other recreational spaces such as but not limited to, cinema halls, theaters and spas, bars and clubs, resorts and water parks, hotels and casinos, and all other areas, regardless of ownership, openly accessible or offered to be accessed by the public.
4.8 Safe space is a formal or informal place where a person feels comfortable, physically and emotionally safe, enjoy the freedom of self-expression without the fear of judgment or harm.
5. POLICY CONTENT AND GUIDELINES
This policy content and guidelines provide the details on the duties and responsibilities of LGUs on the localization of the Act.
5.1 Duties and responsibilities of Local Government Units
To ensure the effective implementation of the law, the provincial, city, municipal and barangay governments shall perform the following duties and responsibilities:
5.1.1 Provincial Government
126.96.36.199 Pass an ordinance in line with provisions stated in RA 11313 to prevent the occurrence of and efficiently and effectively respond to GBSH in streets and public spaces; and designate public spaces, regardless of ownership and nature as safe spaces against GBSH;
188.8.131.52 Disseminate or post in conspicuous places, official websites and social media pages, copies of the Safe Spaces Act and related ordinances;
184.108.40.206 Provide measures to prevent GBSH in educational and/or social institutions, such as information campaigns and anti-sexual harassment seminars;
220.127.116.11 Coordinate with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the regional Committee on Anti-Trafficking and Violence Against Women and their Children (RCAT-VAWC) for a sustained information campaign activities and provide assistance, when necessary, to component LGUs in the development of IEC materials, preferably translated in local dialect and conduct of awareness campaigns;
18.104.22.168 Engage with academic institutions and duly accredited/recognized women’s group and civil society organizations (CSOs), local media such as tv and radio stations in the conduct of advocacy campaign against GBSH in streets and public spaces;
22.214.171.124 Ensure compliance of component cities and municipalities with the law and its IRR, and this guidelines;
126.96.36.199 Provide technical and financial assistance to component LGUs in the implementation of programs, projects and activities related to awareness campaign against GBSH in streets and public spaces, capacity building of LGU personnel and the operationalization of ASH Desk and ASH Hotlines; and
188.8.131.52 Ensure the setting-up and maintenance of functional Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) camera’s in major roads, alleys and sidewalks to aid in the filing of cases and gathering of evidence as well as in the prevention of GBSH in streets and public spaces.
5.1.2 City/Municipal Government
184.108.40.206 Pass an ordinance, in line with provisions stated in RA 11313, to prevent the occurrence of and efficiently and effectively respond to GBSH in streets and public spaces; and designate public spaces, regardless of ownership and nature, as safe spaces against GBSH;
220.127.116.11 Designate traffic enforcers and other local law enforcement units to be Anti-Sexual Harassment Enforcers (ASHEs) and ensure that they undergo Gender-Sensitive Training (GST) and orientation on the law;
18.104.22.168 Disseminate or post in conspicuous places, official websites and social pages, copies of the Safe Spaces Act and related ordinances;
22.214.171.124 Engage with academic institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), local media such as tv and radio stations in the conduct of advocacy campaign against GBSH in streets and public spaces;
126.96.36.199 Develop, produce, and distribute IEC materials, preferably translated in local dialect, that raise awareness for and condemn gender-based sexual harassment, inform the public of the penalties for committing gender-based sexual harassment, and contain infographics on reporting and referral mechanisms and hotline numbers;
188.8.131.52 Set-up an Anti-Sexual Harassment (ASH) Desk at the city/municipal for the purpose of expediting the receipt and processing of complaints and reports of GBSH in streets and public spaces, and the same shall be strengthened;
184.108.40.206 Establish an ASH Desk Hotline to receive and respond to calls on GBSH in streets and public spaces;
220.127.116.11 Ensure the setting-up and maintenance of functional CCTV cameras in major roads, alleys and sidewalks in their respective areas to aid in the filing of cases and gathering of evidence as well as in the prevention of GBSH in streets and public spaces;
18.104.22.168 Ensure the establishment of ASH Desk in every barangay;
22.214.171.124 Organize an ASH Sub-committee under the Gender and Development Focal Point System (GADFPS) to supervise, support and coordinate the operations of the ASH Desk and Hotline;
126.96.36.199 Establish and Anti-Sexual Harassment (ASH) Referral Network to strengthen the coordination among public and private service providers in addressing the needs of victim-survivors of GBSH in streets and public spaces;
188.8.131.52 Provide training on the law for the punong barangays and members of the Lupong Tagapamayapa in cases covered by the Katarungang pambarangay system, for traffic enforces under their jurisdiction, and adopt training modules for concerned LGU personnel down to the barangay level; and
184.108.40.206 Provide technical and financial assistance in the implementation of programs, projects and activities related to the capacity development of LGU personnel on and awareness campaign against GBSH in streets and public spaces and the operationalization of ASH Desk and Hotline.
5.1.3 Barangay Government
220.127.116.11 Pass an ordinance, in line with provisions stated in RA 11313, to prevent the occurrence of and efficiently and effectively respond to GBSH in streets and public spaces; and designate public spaces regardless of ownership and nature as safe spaces against GBSH;
18.104.22.168 Designate barangay tanods, community brigades, and community service units to be the ASHEs;
22.214.171.124 Establish an ASH Desk for the purpose of expediting the receipt and processing of complaints and reports of sexual harassment. The Violence Against Women (VAW) Desk shall also serve as the ASH Desk;
126.96.36.199 Ensure the participation of ASHEs, ASH Desk Officer and members of the katarungang Pambarangay in gender-sensitivity training; orientation on the Safe Space Act, and protocols in responding to GBSH in streets and public spaces;
188.8.131.52 Distribute IEC materials developed by the city/municipality and other entities, that raise awareness for and condemn GBSH in streets and public spaces;
184.108.40.206 Create a mechanism for handling and documentation of complaints including those cases covered by the Katarungang Pambarangay system;
220.127.116.11 Establish an Anti-Sexual harassment (ASH) Referral Network to strengthen the coordination among public and private service providers in addressing the needs of victim-survivors of GBSH in streets and public spaces;
18.104.22.168 Ensure the setting-up and maintenance of functional CCTV cameras in major roads, alleys and sidewalks in their respective areas to aid in the filing of cases and gathering of evidence as well as in the prevention of GBSH in streets and public spaces;
5.2 Functions of Anti-sexual Harassment Enforcers (ASHEs):
5.2.1 The ASHE shall have the following functions:
22.214.171.124 Receive complaints on GBSH in streets and public spaces;
126.96.36.199 Immediately apprehend the perpetrator if caught in the act of committing the crime;
188.8.131.52 Immediately bring the perpetrator to the nearest police station for appropriate action; and
184.108.40.206 Together with the Women’s and Children’s Desk of the PNP stations, keep a ledger of perpetrators for the purpose of determining if the perpetrator is a first-time, second-time or third-time offender.
5.3 Establishment of Anti-Sexual harassment (ASH) Desk
5.3.1 Setting-up the ASH Desk
220.127.116.11 The local chief executive (LCE) shall designate an area in the city, municipality or barangay hall, as the case may be, where the ASH Desk may be set-up in such a way that the right to privacy of the victim-survivor is protected at all times;
18.104.22.168 It shall have the necessary furniture and fixtures, such as, but not limited to, table, chairs, and separate filing cabinet where the logbook and tools/equipment for documentation are stored
5.3.2 Designation of ASH Desk officer
22.214.171.124 The city/municipal mayor and punong barangay shall designate an ASH Desk officer, preferably a woman, who shall be directly in charge of the daily operations of the ASH Desk.
126.96.36.199 In barangays, the designated VAW Desk person shall serve as the ASH Desk officer. For this purpose, the VAW Desk person sha;; be trained on the forms of sexual harassment, as well as the functions and protocols in responding to GBSH in streets and public spaces.
5.3.3 Functions of the ASH Desk Officer
188.8.131.52 The ASH desk Officer shall have the following functions:
184.108.40.206.1 Receive, document and respond to complaints and reports of GBSH in streets and public spaces;
220.127.116.11.2 Facilitate the referral of cases and persons to the appropriate public and private service providers for further assistance such as legal, medical, psychological, safety, security, and other services;
18.104.22.168.3 Record the number cases of GBSH in streets and public spaces received and referred to other agencies, and submit a quarterly report to the DILG City/ Municipal Field Office and the City/Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (C/MSWDO);
22.214.171.124.4 Keep case records confidential and secure, and ensure that only authorized personnel have access to these records;
126.96.36.199.5 Assist in the formulation/updating of policies, development of plans, programs, projects and activities; and educational and awareness campaigns to address GBSH in streets and public spaces;
188.8.131.52.6 Coordinate with pertinent agencies in monitoring the status of GBSH-related complaints and reports; and
184.108.40.206.7 Perform other related functions as may be assigned.
5.4 Conduct of Safety Audit
5.4.1 Provincial, City and Municipal Governments shall conduct safety audits on their responsibilities enumerated in Section 8 of the law and Section 9 of the IRR every three (3) years to assess the efficiency and effectivity of the implementation of the law with in their jurisdiction.
220.127.116.11 Provinces shall assess the cities and municipalities on the implementation of the law and its IRR; and
18.104.22.168 Cities and municipalities shall assess the barangays on the implementation of the law and its IRR.
5.5 Source of Funds
5.5.1 The implementation and localization of the Safe Spaces Act may be charged against the Gender and Development (GAD) budget or other sources of funds subject to the availability thereof and to the existing accounting and auditing rules and regulations.
6. INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
6.1 Philippine Commission on Women
6.1.1 Lead the national campaign for the awareness of the law.
6.1.2 Develop educational modules and materials for national awareness campaigns together with DILG, local Government Academy (LGA), Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and in coordination with accredited/recognized CSOs actively working on the issues affecting women, children and LGBTQ community;
6.1.3 Coordinate with duly accredited authorized CSOs actively working on the issues affecting women, children and LGBTQ community to ensure the participation of all LGUs in a sustained information campaign;
6.1.4 Provide training activities to build the capabilities of local government officials and functionaries in the implementation of the law, in partnership with DILG, LGA, DAP and CHR; and
6.1.5 Assist the DILG in the development of indicators that will guide the safety audits.
6.2 Department of the Interior and Local Government Central Office
6.2.1 Develop guidelines and mechanisms to ensure the effective implementation of and monitoring on the compliance of LGUs on the law and its IRR;
6.2.2 Assist PCW in the development of educational modules and IEC materials for national awareness campaigns and capacity-building activities;
6.2.3 Assist PCW in the conduct of awareness campaign and capacity-building activities to LGUs related to GBSH in streets and public spaces;
6.2.4 Develop guidelines and indicators for the conduct of safety audits; and
6.2.5 Ensure that all LGUs have set-up CCTVs in major roads, alleys and sidewalks in their respective areas to aid in the filing of cases and gathering of evidence.
6.3 Department of the Interior and Local Government Regional Office and Field Offices
6.3.1 Provide assistance in the conduct of awareness campaigns and capacity-building activities to LGUs;
6.3.2 Monitor and submit reports on LGU compliance with the law and its IRR and this guidelines;
6.3.3 Ensure widest dissemination of this guidelines; and
6.3.4 Assist the LGUs in the conduct of safety audits.
Republic Act No. 9262 otherwise known as the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004 is an act enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippine Congress Assembly which defines violence against women and their children, provides for protective measures for victims, prescribes penalties and for other purposes. Listed below are the fifty (50) sections of the said act quote and quote:
SECTION 2. Declaration of Policy.- It is hereby declared that the State values the dignity of women and children and guarantees full respect for human rights. The State also recognizes the need to protect the family and its members particularly women and children, from violence and threats to their personal safety and security.
Towards this end, the State shall exert efforts to address violence committed against women and children in keeping with the fundamental freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution and the Provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights instruments of which the Philippines is a party.
SECTION 3. Definition of Terms.- As used in this Act,
(a) “Violence against women and their children” refers to any act or a series of acts committed by any person against a woman who is his wife, former wife, or against a woman with whom the person has or had a sexual or dating relationship, or with whom he has a common child, or against her child whether legitimate or illegitimate, within or without the family abode, which result in or is likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological harm or suffering, or economic abuse including threats of such acts, battery, assault, coercion, harassment or arbitrary deprivation of liberty. It includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:
A. “Physical Violence” refers to acts that include bodily or physical harm;
B. “Sexual violence” refers to an act which is sexual in nature, committed against a woman or her child. It includes, but is not limited to:
a.) rape, sexual harassment, acts of lasciviousness, treating a woman or her child as a sex object, making demeaning and sexually suggestive remarks, physically attacking the sexual parts of the victim’s body, forcing her/him to watch obscene publications and indecent shows or forcing the woman or her child to do indecent acts and/or make films thereof, forcing the wife and mistress/lover to live in the conjugal home or sleep together in the same room with the abuser
b.) acts causing or attempting to cause the victim to engage in any sexual activity by force, threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm or coercion;
c.) Prostituting the woman or child.
C. “Psychological violence” refers to acts or omissions causing or likely to cause mental or emotional suffering of the victim such as but not limited to intimidation, harassment, stalking, damage to property, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse and mental infidelity. It includes causing or allowing the victim to witness the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a member of the family to which the victim belongs, or to witness pornography in any form or to witness abusive injury to pets or to unlawful or unwanted deprivation of the right to custody and/or visitation of common children.
D. “Economic abuse” refers to acts that make or attempt to make a woman financially dependent which includes, but is not limited to the following:
- withdrawal of financial support or preventing the victim from engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity, except in cases wherein the other spouse/partner objects on valid, serious and moral grounds as defined in Article 73 of the Family Code;
- deprivation or threat of deprivation of financial resources and the right to the use and enjoyment of the conjugal, community or property owned in common;
- destroying household property;
- controlling the victims’ own money or properties or solely controlling the conjugal money or properties.
(b) “Battery” refers to an act of inflicting physical harm upon the woman or her child resulting to the physical and psychological or emotional distress.
(c) “Battered Woman Syndrome” refers to a scientifically defined pattern of psychological and behavioral symptoms found in women living in battering relationships as a result of cumulative abuse.
(d) “Stalking” refers to an intentional act committed by a person who, knowingly and without lawful justification follows the woman or her child or places the woman or her child under surveillance directly or indirectly or a combination thereof.
(e) “Dating relationship” refers to a situation wherein the parties live as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or are romantically involved over time and on a continuing basis during the course of the relationship. A casual acquaintance or ordinary socialization between two individuals in a business or social context is not a dating relationship.
(f) “Sexual relations” refers to a single sexual act which may or may not result in the bearing of a common child.
(g) “Safe place or shelter” refers to any home or institution maintained or managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or by any other agency or voluntary organization accredited by the DSWD for the purposes of this Act or any other suitable place the resident of which is willing temporarily to receive the victim.
(h) “Children” refers to those below eighteen (18) years of age or older but are incapable of taking care of themselves as defined under Republic Act No. 7610. As used in this Act, it includes the biological children of the victim and other children under her care.
SECTION 4. Construction.- This Act shall be liberally construed to promote the protection and safety of victims of violence against women and their children.
SECTION 5. Acts of Violence Against Women and Their Children.- The crime of violence against women and their children is committed through any of the following acts:
(a) Causing physical harm to the woman or her child;
(b) Threatening to cause the woman or her child physical harm;
(c) Attempting to cause the woman or her child physical harm;
(d) Placing the woman or her child in fear of imminent physical harm;
(e) Attempting to compel or compelling the woman or her child to engage in conduct which the woman or her child has the right to desist from or desist from conduct which the woman or her child has the right to engage in, or attempting to restrict or restricting the woman’s or her child’s freedom of movement or conduct by force or threat of force, physical or other harm or threat of physical or other harm, or intimidation directed against the woman or child. This shall include, but not limited to, the following acts committed with the purpose or effect of controlling or restricting the woman’s or her child’s movement or conduct:
- Threatening to deprive or actually depriving the woman or her child of custody to her/his family;
- Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her children of financial support legally due her or her family, or deliberately providing the woman’s children insufficient financial support;
- Depriving or threatening to deprive the woman or her child of a legal right;
- Preventing the woman in engaging in any legitimate profession, occupation, business or activity or controlling the victim’s own mon4ey or properties, or solely controlling the conjugal or common money, or properties;
(f) Inflicting or threatening to inflict physical harm on oneself for the purpose of controlling her actions or decisions;
(g) Causing or attempting to cause the woman or her child to engage in any sexual activity which does not constitute rape, by force or threat of force, physical harm, or through intimidation directed against the woman or her child or her/his immediate family;
(h) Engaging in purposeful, knowing, or reckless conduct, personally or through another, that alarms or causes substantial emotional or psychological distress to the woman or her child. This shall include, but not be limited to, the following acts:
- Stalking or following the woman or her child in public or private places;
- Peering in the window or lingering outside the residence of the woman or her child;
- Entering or remaining in the dwelling or on the property of the woman or her child against her/his will;
- Destroying the property and personal belongings or inflicting harm to animals or pets of the woman or her child; and
- Engaging in any form of harassment or violence;
(i) Causing mental or emotional anguish, public ridicule or humiliation to the woman or her child, including, but not limited to, repeated verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of financial support or custody of minor children of access to the woman’s child/children.
SECTION 6. Penalties.- The crime of violence against women and their children, under Section 5 hereof shall be punished according to the following rules:
(a) Acts falling under Section 5(a) constituting attempted, frustrated or consummated parricide or murder or homicide shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the Revised Penal Code.
If these acts resulted in mutilation, it shall be punishable in accordance with the Revised Penal Code; those constituting serious physical injuries shall have the penalty of prison mayor; those constituting less serious physical injuries shall be punished by prision correccional; and those constituting slight physical injuries shall be punished by arresto mayor.
Acts falling under Section 5(b) shall be punished by imprisonment of two degrees lower than the prescribed penalty for the consummated crime as specified in the preceding paragraph but shall in no case be lower than arresto mayor.
(b) Acts falling under Section 5(c) and 5(d) shall be punished by arresto mayor;
(c) Acts falling under Section 5(e) shall be punished by prision correccional;
(d) Acts falling under Section 5(f) shall be punished by arresto mayor;
(e) Acts falling under Section 5(g) shall be punished by prision mayor;
(f) Acts falling under Section 5(h) and Section 5(i) shall be punished by prision mayor.
If the acts are committed while the woman or child is pregnant or committed in the presence of her child, the penalty to be applied shall be the maximum period of penalty prescribed in the section.
In addition to imprisonment, the perpetrator shall (a) pay a fine in the amount of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) but not more than three hundred thousand pesos (300,000.00); (b) undergo mandatory psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment and shall report compliance to the court.
SECTION 7. Venue.- The Regional Trial Court designated as a Family Court shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases of violence against women and their children under this law. In the absence of such court in the place where the offense was committed, the case shall be filed in the Regional Trial Court where the crime or any of its elements was committed at the option of the compliant.
SECTION 8. Protection Orders.- A protection order is an order issued under this act for the purpose of preventing further acts of violence against a woman or her child specified in Section 5 of this Act and granting other necessary relief. The relief granted under a protection order serve the purpose of safeguarding the victim from further harm, minimizing any disruption in the victim’s daily life, and facilitating the opportunity and ability of the victim to independently regain control over her life. The provisions of the protection order shall be enforced by law enforcement agencies. The protection orders that may be issued under this Act are the barangay protection order (BPO), temporary protection order (TPO) and permanent protection order (PPO). The protection orders that may be issued under this Act shall include any, some or all of the following reliefs:
(a) Prohibition of the respondent from threatening to commit or committing, personally or through another, any of the acts mentioned in Section 5 of this Act;
(b) Prohibition of the respondent from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting or otherwise communicating with the petitioner, directly or indirectly;
(c) Removal and exclusion of the respondent from the residence of the petitioner, regardless of ownership of the residence, either temporarily for the purpose of protecting the petitioner, or permanently where no property rights are violated, and if respondent must remove personal effects from the residence, the court shall direct a law enforcement agent to accompany the respondent has gathered his things and escort respondent from the residence;
(d) Directing the respondent to stay away from petitioner and designated family or household member at a distance specified by the court, and to stay away from the residence, school, place of employment, or any specified place frequented by the petitioner and any designated family or household member;
(e) Directing lawful possession and use by petitioner of an automobile and other essential personal effects, regardless of ownership, and directing the appropriate law enforcement officer to accompany the petitioner to the residence of the parties to ensure that the petitioner is safely restored to the possession of the automobile and other essential personal effects, or to supervise the petitioner’s or respondent’s removal of personal belongings;
(f) Granting a temporary or permanent custody of a child/children to the petitioner;
(g) Directing the respondent to provide support to the woman and/or her child if entitled to legal support. Notwithstanding other laws to the contrary, the court shall order an appropriate percentage of the income or salary of the respondent to be withheld regularly by the respondent’s employer for the same to be automatically remitted directly to the woman. Failure to remit and/or withhold or any delay in the remittance of support to the woman and/or her child without justifiable cause shall render the respondent or his employer liable for indirect contempt of court;
(h) Prohibition of the respondent from any use or possession of any firearm or deadly weapon and order him to surrender the same to the court for appropriate disposition by the court, including revocation of license and disqualification to apply for any license to use or possess a firearm. If the offender is a law enforcement agent, the court shall order the offender to surrender his firearm and shall direct the appropriate authority to investigate on the offender and take appropriate action on matter;
(i) Restitution for actual damages caused by the violence inflicted, including, but not limited to, property damage, medical expenses, childcare expenses and loss of income;
(j) Directing the DSWD or any appropriate agency to provide petitioner may need; and
(k) Provision of such other forms of relief as the court deems necessary to protect and provide for the safety of the petitioner and any designated family or household member, provided petitioner and any designated family or household member consents to such relief.
Any of the reliefs provided under this section shall be granted even in the absence of a decree of legal separation or annulment or declaration of absolute nullity of marriage.
The issuance of a BPO or the pendency of an application for BPO shall not preclude a petitioner from applying for, or the court from granting a TPO or PPO.
SECTION 9. Who may file Petition for Protection Orders. – A petition for protection order may be filed by any of the following:
(a) the offended party;
(b) parents or guardians of the offended party;
(c) ascendants, descendants or collateral relatives within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity;
(d) officers or social workers of the DSWD or social workers of local government units (LGUs);
(e) police officers, preferably those in charge of women and children’s desks;
(f) Punong Barangay or Barangay Kagawad;
(g) lawyer, counselor, therapist or healthcare provider of the petitioner;
(h) At least two (2) concerned responsible citizens of the city or municipality where the violence against women and their children occurred and who has personal knowledge of the offense committed.
SECTION 10. Where to Apply for a Protection Order. – Applications for BPOs shall follow the rules on venue under Section 409 of the Local Government Code of 1991 and its implementing rules and regulations. An application for a TPO or PPO may be filed in the regional trial court, metropolitan trial court, municipal trial court, municipal circuit trial court with territorial jurisdiction over the place of residence of the petitioner: Provided, however, That if a family court exists in the place of residence of the petitioner, the application shall be filed with that court.
SECTION 11. How to Apply for a Protection Order. – The application for a protection order must be in writing, signed and verified under oath by the applicant. It may be filed as an independent action or as incidental relief in any civil or criminal case the subject matter or issues thereof partakes of a violence as described in this Act. A standard protection order application form, written in English with translation to the major local languages, shall be made available to facilitate applications for protections order, and shall contain, among other, the following information:
(a) names and addresses of petitioner and respondent;
(b) description of relationships between petitioner and respondent;
(c) a statement of the circumstances of the abuse;
(d) description of the reliefs requested by petitioner as specified in Section 8 herein;
(e) request for counsel and reasons for such;
(f) request for waiver of application fees until hearing; and
(g) an attestation that there is no pending application for a protection order in another court.
If the applicants is not the victim, the application must be accompanied by an affidavit of the applicant attesting to (a) the circumstances of the abuse suffered by the victim and (b) the circumstances of consent given by the victim for the filling of the application. When disclosure of the address of the victim will pose danger to her life, it shall be so stated in the application. In such a case, the applicant shall attest that the victim is residing in the municipality or city over which court has territorial jurisdiction, and shall provide a mailing address for purpose of service processing.
An application for protection order filed with a court shall be considered an application for both a TPO and PPO.
Barangay officials and court personnel shall assist applicants in the preparation of the application. Law enforcement agents shall also extend assistance in the application for protection orders in cases brought to their attention.
SECTION 12. Enforceability of Protection Orders. – All TPOs and PPOs issued under this Act shall be enforceable anywhere in the Philippines and a violation thereof shall be punishable with a fine ranging from Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) and/or imprisonment of six (6) months.
SECTION 13. Legal Representation of Petitioners for Protection Order. – If the woman or her child requests in the applications for a protection order for the appointment of counsel because of lack of economic means to hire a counsel de parte, the court shall immediately direct the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) to represent the petitioner in the hearing on the application. If the PAO determines that the applicant can afford to hire the services of a counsel de parte, it shall facilitate the legal representation of the petitioner by a counsel de parte. The lack of access to family or conjugal resources by the applicant, such as when the same are controlled by the perpetrator, shall qualify the petitioner to legal representation by the PAO.
However, a private counsel offering free legal service is not barred from representing the petitioner.
SECTION 14. Barangay Protection Orders (BPOs); Who May Issue and How. – Barangay Protection Orders (BPOs) refer to the protection order issued by the Punong Barangay ordering the perpetrator to desist from committing acts under Section 5 (a) and (b) of this Act. A Punong Barangay who receives applications for a BPO shall issue the protection order to the applicant on the date of filing after ex parte determination of the basis of the application. If the Punong Barangay is unavailable to act on the application for a BPO, the application shall be acted upon by any available Barangay Kagawad. If the BPO is issued by a Barangay Kagawad the order must be accompanied by an attestation by the Barangay Kagawad that the Punong Barangay was unavailable at the time for the issuance of the BPO. BPOs shall be effective for fifteen (15) days. Immediately after the issuance of an ex parte BPO, the Punong Barangay or Barangay Kagawad shall personally serve a copy of the same on the respondent, or direct any barangay official to effect is personal service.
The parties may be accompanied by a non-lawyer advocate in any proceeding before the Punong Barangay.
SECTION 15. Temporary Protection Orders. – Temporary Protection Orders (TPOs) refers to the protection order issued by the court on the date of filing of the application after ex parte determination that such order should be issued. A court may grant in a TPO any, some or all of the reliefs mentioned in this Act and shall be effective for thirty (30) days. The court shall schedule a hearing on the issuance of a PPO prior to or on the date of the expiration of the TPO. The court shall order the immediate personal service of the TPO on the respondent by the court sheriff who may obtain the assistance of law enforcement agents for the service. The TPO shall include notice of the date of the hearing on the merits of the issuance of a PPO.
SECTION 16. Permanent Protection Orders. – Permanent Protection Order (PPO) refers to protection order issued by the court after notice and hearing.
Respondents non-appearance despite proper notice, or his lack of a lawyer, or the non-availability of his lawyer shall not be a ground for rescheduling or postponing the hearing on the merits of the issuance of a PPO. If the respondents appears without counsel on the date of the hearing on the PPO, the court shall appoint a lawyer for the respondent and immediately proceed with the hearing. In case the respondent fails to appear despite proper notice, the court shall allow ex parte presentation of the evidence by the applicant and render judgment on the basis of the evidence presented. The court shall allow the introduction of any history of abusive conduct of a respondent even if the same was not directed against the applicant or the person for whom the applicant is made.
The court shall, to the extent possible, conduct the hearing on the merits of the issuance of a PPO in one (1) day. Where the court is unable to conduct the hearing within one (1) day and the TPO issued is due to expire, the court shall continuously extend or renew the TPO for a period of thirty (30) days at each particular time until final judgment is issued. The extended or renewed TPO may be modified by the court as may be necessary or applicable to address the needs of the applicant.
The court may grant any, some or all of the reliefs specified in Section 8 hereof in a PPO. A PPO shall be effective until revoked by a court upon application of the person in whose favor the order was issued. The court shall ensure immediate personal service of the PPO on respondent.
The court shall not deny the issuance of protection order on the basis of the lapse of time between the act of violence and the filing of the application.
Regardless of the conviction or acquittal of the respondent, the Court must determine whether or not the PPO shall become final. Even in a dismissal, a PPO shall be granted as long as there is no clear showing that the act from which the order might arise did not exist.
SECTION 17. Notice of Sanction in Protection Orders. – The following statement must be printed in bold-faced type or in capital letters on the protection order issued by the Punong Barangay or court:
“VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS PUNISHABLE BY LAW.”
SECTION 18. Mandatory Period For Acting on Applications For Protection Orders – Failure to act on an application for a protection order within the reglementary period specified in the previous section without justifiable cause shall render the official or judge administratively liable.
SECTION 19. Legal Separation Cases. – In cases of legal separation, where violence as specified in this Act is alleged, Article 58 of the Family Code shall not apply. The court shall proceed on the main case and other incidents of the case as soon as possible. The hearing on any application for a protection order filed by the petitioner must be conducted within the mandatory period specified in this Act.
SECTION 20. Priority of Application for a Protection Order. – Ex parte and adversarial hearings to determine the basis of applications for a protection order under this Act shall have priority over all other proceedings. Barangay officials and the courts shall schedule and conduct hearings on applications for a protection order under this Act above all other business and, if necessary, suspend other proceedings in order to hear applications for a protection order.
SECTION 21. Violation of Protection Orders. – A complaint for a violation of a BPO issued under this Act must be filed directly with any municipal trial court, metropolitan trial court, or municipal circuit trial court that has territorial jurisdiction over the barangay that issued the BPO. Violation of a BPO shall be punishable by imprisonment of thirty (30) days without prejudice to any other criminal or civil action that the offended party may file for any of the acts committed.
A judgement of violation of a BPO may be appealed according to the Rules of Court. During trial and upon judgment, the trial court may motu proprio issue a protection order as it deems necessary without need of an application.
Violation of any provision of a TPO or PPO issued under this Act shall constitute contempt of court punishable under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, without prejudice to any other criminal or civil action that the offended party may file for any of the acts committed.
SECTION 22. Applicability of Protection Orders to Criminal Cases. – The foregoing provisions on protection orders shall be applicable in impliedly instituted with the criminal actions involving violence against women and their children.
SECTION 23. Bond to Keep the Peace. – The Court may order any person against whom a protection order is issued to give a bond to keep the peace, to present two sufficient sureties who shall undertake that such person will not commit the violence sought to be prevented.
Should the respondent fail to give the bond as required, he shall be detained for a period which shall in no case exceed six (6) months, if he shall have been prosecuted for acts punishable under Section 5(a) to 5(f) and not exceeding thirty (30) days, if for acts punishable under Section 5(g) to 5(I).
The protection orders referred to in this section are the TPOs and the PPOs issued only by the courts.
SECTION 24. Prescriptive Period. – Acts falling under Sections 5(a) to 5(f) shall prescribe in twenty (20) years. Acts falling under Sections 5(g) to 5(I) shall prescribe in ten (10) years.
SECTION 25. Public Crime. – Violence against women and their children shall be considered a public offense which may be prosecuted upon the filing of a complaint by any citizen having personal knowledge of the circumstances involving the commission of the crime.
SECTION 26. Battered Woman Syndrome as a Defense. – Victim-survivors who are found by the courts to be suffering from battered woman syndrome do not incur any criminal and civil liability notwithstanding the absence of any of the elements for justifying circumstances of self-defense under the Revised Penal Code.
In the determination of the state of mind of the woman who was suffering from battered woman syndrome at the time of the commission of the crime, the courts shall be assisted by expert psychiatrists/psychologists.
SECTION 27. Prohibited Defense. – Being under the influence of alcohol, any illicit drug, or any other mind-altering substance shall not be a defense under this Act.
SECTION 28. Custody of children. – The woman victim of violence shall be entitled to the custody and support of her child/children. Children below seven (7) years old older but with mental or physical disabilities shall automatically be given to the mother, with right to support, unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise.
A victim who is suffering from battered woman syndrome shall not be disqualified from having custody of her children. In no case shall custody of minor children be given to the perpetrator of a woman who is suffering from Battered woman syndrome.
SECTION 29. Duties of Prosecutors/Court Personnel. – Prosecutors and court personnel should observe the following duties when dealing with victims under this Act:
(a) communicate with the victim in a language understood by the woman or her child; and
(b) inform the victim of her/his rights including legal remedies available and procedure, and privileges for indigent litigants.
SECTION 30. Duties of Barangay Officials and Law Enforcers. – Barangay officials and law enforcers shall have the following duties:
(a) respond immediately to a call for help or request for assistance or protection of the victim by entering the necessary whether or not a protection order has been issued and ensure the safety of the victim/s;
(b) confiscate any deadly weapon in the possession of the perpetrator or within plain view;
(c) transport or escort the victim/s to a safe place of their choice or to a clinic or hospital;
(d) assist the victim in removing personal belongs from the house;
(e) assist the barangay officials and other government officers and employees who respond to a call for help;
(f) ensure the enforcement of the Protection Orders issued by the Punong Barangay or the courts;
(g) arrest the suspected perpetrator without a warrant when any of the acts of violence defined by this Act is occurring, or when he/she has personal knowledge that any act of abuse has just been committed, and there is imminent danger to the life or limb of the victim as defined in this Act; and
(h) immediately report the call for assessment or assistance of the DSWD, Social Welfare Department of LGUs or accredited non-government organizations (NGOs).
Any barangay official or law enforcer who fails to report the incident shall be liable for a fine not exceeding Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) or whenever applicable criminal, civil or administrative liability.
SECTION 31. Healthcare Provider Response to Abuse – Any healthcare provider, including, but not limited to, an attending physician, nurse, clinician, barangay health worker, therapist or counselor who suspects abuse or has been informed by the victim of violence shall:
(a) properly document any of the victim’s physical, emotional or psychological injuries;
(b) properly record any of victim’s suspicions, observations and circumstances of the examination or visit;
(c) automatically provide the victim free of charge a medical certificate concerning the examination or visit;
(d) safeguard the records and make them available to the victim upon request at actual cost; and
(e) provide the victim immediate and adequate notice of rights and remedies provided under this Act, and services available to them.
SECTION 32. Duties of Other Government Agencies and LGUs – Other government agencies and LGUs shall establish programs such as, but not limited to, education and information campaign and seminars or symposia on the nature, causes, incidence and consequences of such violence particularly towards educating the public on its social impacts.
It shall be the duty of the concerned government agencies and LGU’s to ensure the sustained education and training of their officers and personnel on the prevention of violence against women and their children under the Act.
SECTION 33. Prohibited Acts. – A Punong Barangay, Barangay Kagawad or the court hearing an application for a protection order shall not order, direct, force or in any way unduly influence he applicant for a protection order to compromise or abandon any of the reliefs sought in the application for protection under this Act. Section 7 of the Family Courts Act of 1997 and Sections 410, 411, 412 and 413 of the Local Government Code of 1991 shall not apply in proceedings where relief is sought under this Act.
Failure to comply with this Section shall render the official or judge administratively liable.
SECTION 34. Persons Intervening Exempt from Liability. – In every case of violence against women and their children as herein defined, any person, private individual or police authority or barangay official who, acting in accordance with law, responds or intervenes without using violence or restraint greater than necessary to ensure the safety of the victim, shall not be liable for any criminal, civil or administrative liability resulting therefrom.
SECTION 35. Rights of Victims. – In addition to their rights under existing laws, victims of violence against women and their children shall have the following rights:
(a) to be treated with respect and dignity;
(b) to avail of legal assistance form the PAO of the Department of Justice (DOJ) or any public legal assistance office;
(c) to be entitled to support services form the DSWD and LGUs’;
(d) to be entitled to all legal remedies and support as provided for under the Family Code; and
(e) to be informed of their rights and the services available to them including their right to apply for a protection order.
SECTION 36. Damages. – Any victim of violence under this Act shall be entitled to actual, compensatory, moral and exemplary damages.
SECTION 37. Hold Departure Order. – The court shall expedite the process of issuance of a hold departure order in cases prosecuted under this Act.
SECTION 38. Exemption from Payment of Docket Fee and Other Expenses. – If the victim is an indigent or there is an immediate necessity due to imminent danger or threat of danger to act on an application for a protection order, the court shall accept the application without payment of the filing fee and other fees and of transcript of stenographic notes.
SECTION 39. Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and Their Children (IAC-VAWC). In pursuance of the abovementioned policy, there is hereby established an Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their children, hereinafter known as the Council, which shall be composed of the following agencies:
(a) Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD);
(b) National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW);
(c) Civil Service Commission (CSC);
(d) Commission on Human rights (CHR):
(e) Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC);
(f) Department of Justice (DOJ);
(g) Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG);
(h) Philippine National Police (PNP);
(i) Department of Health (DOH);
(j) Department of Education (DepEd);
(k) Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); and
(l) National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
These agencies are tasked to formulate programs and projects to eliminate VAW based on their mandates as well as develop capability programs for their employees to become more sensitive to the needs of their clients. The Council will also serve as the monitoring body as regards to VAW initiatives.
The Council members may designate their duly authorized representative who shall have a rank not lower than an assistant secretary or its equivalent. These representatives shall attend Council meetings in their behalf, and shall receive emoluments as may be determined by the Council in accordance with existing budget and accounting rules and regulations.
SECTION 40. Mandatory Programs and Services for Victims. – The DSWD, and LGU’s shall provide the victims temporary shelters, provide counseling, psycho-social services and /or, recovery, rehabilitation programs and livelihood assistance.
The DOH shall provide medical assistance to victims.
SECTION 41. Counseling and Treatment of Offenders. – The DSWD shall provide rehabilitative counseling and treatment to perpetrators towards learning constructive ways of coping with anger and emotional outbursts and reforming their ways. When necessary, the offender shall be ordered by the Court to submit to psychiatric treatment or confinement.
SECTION 42. Training of Persons Involved in Responding to Violence Against Women and their Children Cases. – All agencies involved in responding to violence against women and their children cases shall be required to undergo education and training to acquaint them with:
(a) the nature, extend and causes of violence against women and their children;
(b) the legal rights of, and remedies available to, victims of violence against women and their children;
(c) the services and facilities available to victims or survivors;
(d) the legal duties imposed on police officers to make arrest and to offer protection and assistance; and
(e) techniques for handling incidents of violence against women and their children that minimize the likelihood of injury to the officer and promote the safety of the victim or survivor.
The PNP, in coordination with LGU’s shall establish an education and training program for police officers and barangay officials to enable them to properly handle cases of violence against women and their children.
SECTION 43. Entitled to Leave. – Victims under this Act shall be entitled to take a paid leave of absence up to ten (10) days in addition to other paid leaves under the Labor Code and Civil Service Rules and Regulations, extendible when the necessity arises as specified in the protection order.
Any employer who shall prejudice the right of the person under this section shall be penalized in accordance with the provisions of the Labor Code and Civil Service Rules and Regulations. Likewise, an employer who shall prejudice any person for assisting a co-employee who is a victim under this Act shall likewise be liable for discrimination.
SECTION 44. Confidentiality. – All records pertaining to cases of violence against women and their children including those in the barangay shall be confidential and all public officers and employees and public or private clinics to hospitals shall respect the right to privacy of the victim. Whoever publishes or causes to be published, in any format, the name, address, telephone number, school, business address, employer, or other identifying information of a victim or an immediate family member, without the latter’s consent, shall be liable to the contempt power of the court.
Any person who violates this provision shall suffer the penalty of one (1) year imprisonment and a fine of not more than Five Hundred Thousand pesos (P500,000.00).
SECTION 45. Funding – The amount necessary to implement the provisions of this Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA).
The Gender and Development (GAD) Budget of the mandated agencies and LGU’s shall be used to implement services for victim of violence against women and their children.
SECTION 46. Implementing Rules and Regulations. – Within six (6) months from the approval of this Act, the DOJ, the NCRFW, the DSWD, the DILG, the DOH, and the PNP, and three (3) representatives from NGOs to be identified by the NCRFW, shall promulgate the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of this Act.
SECTION 47. Suppletory Application – For purposes of this Act, the Revised Penal Code and other applicable laws, shall have suppletory application.
SECTION 48. Separability Clause. – If any section or provision of this Act is held unconstitutional or invalid, the other sections or provisions shall not be affected.
SECTION 49. Repealing Clause – All laws, Presidential decrees, executive orders and rules and regulations, or parts thereof, inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or modified accordingly.
SECTION 50. Effectivity – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days from the date of its complete publication in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.
Republic Act 7877 is known as the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995. Section 2 of the said Republic Act is the declaration of policy which states that the state shall value the dignity of every individual, enhance the development of its human resources, guarantee full respect for human rights, and uphold the dignity of workers, employees, applicants for employment, students or those undergoing training, instruction or education. The act further said that all forms of harassment in the employment, education or training environment are hereby declared unlawful. Section 3 of the same act defined work, education or training-related sexual harassment as one that is committed by an employer, employee, manager, supervisor, agent of the employer, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainor, or any other person who, have authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another in a work or training or education environment, demands, requests or otherwise requires any sexual favor from the other, regardless of whether the demand, request or requirement for submission is accepted by the object of said Act. Section 3 has sub-sections enumerated as follows:
(a) In a work-related or employment environment, sexual harassment is committed when:
- The sexual favor is made as a condition in the hiring or in the employment, re-employment or continued employment of said individual, or in granting said individual favorable compensation, terms, conditions, promotions, or privileges, or the refusal to grant the sexual favor results in limiting, segregating or classifying the employee which in any way would discriminate, deprive or diminish employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect the said employee;
- The above acts would impair the employee’s rights or privileges under existing labor laws; or
- The above acts would result in an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the employee.
(b) In an education or training environment, sexual harassment is committed:
- Against one who is under the care, custody or supervision of the offender;
- Against one whose education, training, apprenticeship or tutorship is entrusted to the offender;
- When the sexual favor is made a condition to the giving of a passing grade, or the granting of honors and scholarships, or the payment of a stipend, allowances, or other benefits, privileges, or considerations, or
- When the sexual advances result in an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for the student, trainee or apprentice.
According to the abovementioned Act, any person who directs or induces to commit any act of sexual harassment as defined in the said Act, or who cooperated in the commissions thereof by another without which it could not have been committed, shall also be held liable.
The enumerated circumstances in Section 3a and 3b are expanded to also make liable any person who directs or induces another to commit any act of sexual harassment as defined, or any person who cooperates in the commission thereof by another without which it would not have been committed.
The Act imposes the duty to prevent and deter the commission of acts of sexual harassment to the employer or head of office in a work-related, education or training environment. First, it mandates the promulgation of appropriate rules and regulations prescribing the procedure for the investigation of sexual harassment cases and the administrative sanctions which is created in consultation with and jointly approved by employees or students or trainees through their representatives. It noted that administrative sanctions shall not bar prosecution in proper courts for unlawful acts of sexual harassment. Second, it mandates the creation of a committee on decorum and investigation of cases on sexual harassment. This committee shall conduct meetings to increase understanding to the end that incidents of sexual harassment are prevented.
As for work-related environment cases, the committee shall be composed of at least one (1) representative each from the management, the union, if any, the supervisory level employees, and from the rank and file. As for educational or training institutions, the committee shall be composed of at least one (1) representative coming from the administration, the trainers, instructors, professors, or coaches and students or trainees.
It follows that the employer or head of office, to whom this duty is imposed, shall disseminate, or post a copy of this Act for the information of all concerned. Failure to take immediate action upon information of the offended party on the incidence of sexual harassment act/s in the employment, education or training environment shall make the employer or head of office solidarily liable for damages arising from such acts. Moreover, Section 6 provides that the victim must not be precluded from instituting a separate and independent action for damages and other affirmative relief.
Section 7 of this Act also discusses the penalties that shall be imposed to any person who violates this Act. Violators will be penalized by imprisonment of not less than one (1) month nor more than six (6) months, or a fine of not less than P 10,000 pesos nor more than 20,000 or both at the discretion of the court. Any action shall prescribe in 3 years.
Comparing the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 and the Safe Spaces Act, a number of difference have been observed. Firstly, as to how acts of sexual harassment are defined, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 or R.A. No. 7877 are more general as compared to the Safe Spaces Act or RA 11313 which is more specific as it exhausts a list of acts that are considered sexual harassment. Secondly, as to coverage, R.A. No. 11313 is more extensive than R.A. No. 7877 as it does not only cover sexual harassment in the workplace and educational or training institutions but also in public spaces including common carriers, and online. Lastly, the requirement of authority, influence and moral ascendancy in R.A. No. 7877 can be done away with in R.A. No. 11313, if the act is within its provisions. Hence, acts which are not within the text of R.A. No. 7877, such as in the case of peer to peer sexual harassment and subordinate over superior sexual harassment, are now punishable under R.A. No. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act.
The 1987 Constitution is also one of the important sources of relevant law in relation to gender-based sexual harassment. According to Section 3, Article III of the Constitution, “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of laws”. Moreover, Section 4 guarantees every Filipino’s right to freedom of expression. As such and as enshrined in the Constitution, Filipinos, regardless of gender, gender identity, gender expression and gender preference are accorded equal protection from any form of harassment due to their relative circumstances, choices and self-expressions. Furthermore, Section 2, Article II of the Constitution also provides that the Philippines “adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation and amity with all nations”. With the international community’s active involvement in fighting gender violence and inequality worldwide, Congress has enacted various laws and statutes incorporating salient provisions of international laws pertinent to this subject.
Related Foreign Laws, Statutes and Jurisprudence
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is considered one of the milestone document in the history of human rights proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948 through General Assembly Resolution 217 A. This document had been translated into over 500 languages and outlines the fundamental human rights to be universally protected. According to the General Assembly, UDHR is a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations, to the end that every individual and organ of society, shall strive for the promotion of respect for these rights and freedoms, to secure universal and effective recognition and observance of the member states and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction:
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2.Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Article 3.Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 4.No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5.No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6.Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7.All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Article 22. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Article 28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. It is often described as an international bill of rights for women which consists of a preamble and 30 articles which defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination. CEDAW defines discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”.
States who are committed to the cause are expected to undertake a series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms which includes the following:
- incorporating the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolishing all discriminatory laws and adopting appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;
- establishing tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination; and
- ensuring elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.
Furthermore, the Convention provides for the basis in realizing equality between women and men through ensuring women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political and public life, including the right to vote and to stand for election, as well as education, health and employment. States parties agree to take all appropriate measures, including legislation and temporary special measures, so that women can enjoy all their human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is also the only human rights treaty which affirms the reproductive rights of women and targets culture and tradition as influential forces shaping gender roles and family relations. Additionally, it upholds women’s rights in acquiring, changing or retaining their nationality and the nationality of their children. Member states also adhere to appropriate measures against all forms of trafficking in and exploitation of women. All Countries that have ratified or acceded to the CEDAW are legally bound to practice and observe its provisions. Likewise, they are also committed to submit national reports, at least every four years, in compliance with their treaty obligations.
The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (DEVAW) was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution 48/104 on December 20, 1993. It recognizes the urgent need for the universal application of the rights and principles of equality, security, liberty, integrity and dignity of all human beings among women.
According to Article 1 of the DEVAW, violence against women to mean “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”. Additionally, violence against women shall be understood to encompass, but not be limited to, the following (Article 2):
(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation;
(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution; and
(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
The Declaration (Article 3) also stipulated that women are entitled to the equal enjoyment and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedom in all fields, such as:
(a) The right to life;
(b) The right to equality;
(c) The right to liberty and security of person;
(d) The right to equal protection under the law;
(e) The right to be free from all forms of discrimination;
(f) The right to the highest standard attainable of physical and mental health;
(g) The right to just and favorable conditions of work;
(h) The right not to be subjected to torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
In the Ontario Human Rights Code (1990), gender-based harassment is considered as one types of sexual harassment which is defined as any behavior that polices and reinforces traditional heterosexual gender norms. In this code, it says that gender-based harassment is used to get people to follow traditional sex stereotypes (dominant males, subservient females) and as a bullying tactic often between members of the same sex. Moreover, the code states that gender-based harassment is not generally motivated by sexual interest or intent but rather based on hostility and is often an attempt to make the target feel unwelcome in the environment. A number of examples of gender-based sexual harassment are enumerated in the same code such as: demanding hugs; invading personal space; making unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching; using language that puts someone down and/or comments toward women or men in some cases; sex specific derogatory names; leering or inappropriate staring; making gender-related comments about someone’s physical characteristics or mannerisms; making comments or treating someone badly because they don’t conform with sex-role stereotypes; showing or sending pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons, sexually explicit graffiti, or other sexual images (including on-line); sexual jokes, including passing around of written sexual jokes through email; rough and vulgar humor or language related to gender; using sexual or gender-related comment or conduct to bully someone; spreading sexual rumors including on-line; making suggestive or offensive comments or hints about members of a specific gender; making sexual propositions; verbally abusing, threatening or taunting someone based on gender; making sexual propositions; verbally abusing, threatening or taunting someone based on gender; bragging about sexual prowess; demanding dates or sexual favors; making offensive sexual jokes or comments; asking questions or talking about sexual activities; making an employee dress in a sexualized or gender-specific way; acting paternally in a way that someone thinks undermines their self-respect or position of responsibility; and making threats to penalize or otherwise punish a person who refuses to comply with sexual advances known as reprisal.
The Maputo Protocol or the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s rights on the Rights of Women in Africa was adopted in 2003 for the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Africa. Today, it remains one of the most progressive legal instrument setting forth a comprehensive set of human rights laws for African women which provides for a wide-range and substantive human rights for women covering the spectrum of civil, political, economic, social and cultural as well as environmental rights. This document is a demonstration of goodwill and the total commitment of the African Union Member States to invest in the development and empowerment of women representing majority of its population. Salient features of this law include provisions on: 1) the elimination of discrimination against women, 2) right to dignity, 3) the right to life, integrity and security of the person, 4) elimination of harmful practices, 5) marriage, 6) access to justice and equal protection before the law, 7) right to participation in the political and decision-making process, 8) right to peace, 9) protection of women in armed conflict, 10) right to education and training, 11) economic and social welfare rights, 12) health and reproductive rights, 13) right to food security, 14) right to adequate housing, 15) right to positive cultural context, 16) right to a health and sustainable environment, 17) right to sustainable development, 18) widows’ rights, 19) right to inheritance, 20) special protection of elderly women, 21) special protection of women with disabilities, and 22) special protection of women in distress, among others.
Because of this innovative instrument, African nations had witnessed the evolution of innovative laws, policies and significant institutional mechanisms that had put forth the advancement of women’s human rights. As a consequence, reports have showed that many African nations have totally taken active steps in the promotion of women’s rights. Benin has adopted a family code on gender equality that prohibits polygamy and affords children equal access to rights irrespective of status. Sierra Leon has a Registration of Customary Marriage and Divorce Act that protect women from entering into forced marriages. Likewise, South Africa has promulgated the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA) which guarantees the equal protection of women under the law. This law is considered the region’s most important law after its constitution.
The Council of Europe, Europe’s leading human rights organization, has undertaken a number of initiatives to promote the protection of women against violence as early as the 1990s which resulted to the adoption of Rec(2002)5 by the Committee of Ministers to its member states on the protection of women against violence, including the Europe-wide campaign of combatting violence against women, including domestic violence in 2006-2008. By assuming its leading role in human rights protection, the Council of Europe decided to set up comprehensive standards to prevent and combat violence against women including domestic violence. The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence was adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on April 7, 2011. It was opened for signature on May 11 of the same year on the occasion of the 121st Session of the Committee of Ministers in Istanbul. Following its 10th ratification by Andorra on 22 April 2014, it entered into force on August 1, 2014 known as Treaty No. 210 or the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. This new landmark treaty opens the path for creating a legal framework at the pan-European level to ensure the protection of women against all forms of violence, thereby providing an avenue for the prevention, prosecution and elimination of violence against women and domestic violence.
In response to a well-documented pattern of abuse, human rights experts met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to draft a set of international principles concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result, the Yogyakarta Principles was formulated which is considered a universal guide to human rights affirming binding international legal standards with which all States must comply, promising a different and brighter future where all people are born free and have equal dignity and rights accorded by their birthright.Since its adoption in 2006, the Yogyakarta Principles has developed into an authoritative framework of human rights for persons with diverse sexual orientation and gender identities. In 2017, there were additional principles and state obligations on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics to complement the existing Yogyakarta Principles, now known as Yogyakarta Principles plus 10. The current and improved Yogyakarta Principles enumerated the following thirty-eight (38) principles, namely:
Principle 1. The Right to the Universal Enjoyment of Human Rights
Principle 2. The Rights to Equality and Non-Discrimination
Principle 3. The Right to Recognition before the Law
Principle 4. The Right to Life
Principle 5. The Right to Security of the Person
Principle 6. The Right to Privacy
Principle 7. The Right to Freedom from Arbitrary Deprivation of Liberty
Principle 8. The Right to Fair Trial
Principle 9. The Right to Treatment with Humanity while in Detention
Principle 10. The Right to Freedom from Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment
Principle 11. The Right to Protection from all Forms of Exploitation, Sale and Trafficking of Human Beings
Principle 12. The Right to Work
Principle 13. The Right to Social Security and Other Social Protection Measures
Principle 14. The Right to an Adequate Standard of Living
Principle 15. The Right to Adequate Housing
Principle 16. The Right to Education
Principle 17. The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health
Principle 18. Protection from Medical Abuses
Principle 19. The Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
Principle 20. The Right to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Principle 21. The Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion
Principle 22. The Right to Freedom of Movement
Principle 23. The Right to Seek Asylum
Principle 24. The Right to Found a Family
Principle 25. The Right to Participate in Public Life
Principle 26. The Right to Participate in Cultural Life
Principle 27. The Right to Promote Human Rights
Principle 28. The Right to Effective Remedies and Redress
Principle 29. Accountability
Principle 30. The Right to State Protection
Principle 31. The Right to Legal Recognition
Principle 32. The Right to Bodily and Mental Integrity
Principle 33. The Right to Freedom from Criminalization and Sanction on the Basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression or Sex Characteristics
Principle 34. The Right to Protection from Poverty
Principle 35. The Right to Sanitation
Principle 36. The Right to the Enjoyment of Human Rights in Relation to Information and Communication Technologies
Principle 37. The Right to Truth
Principle 38. The Right to Practice, Protect, Preserve and Revive Cultural Diversity
Among the Yogyakarta Principles, Principle 33 which is the “Right to Freedom from Criminalization and Sanction on the Basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, or Sex Characteristics is found to be of utmost importance to the researchers for said principle is significant to this study. This principle emphasizes that the State shall:
A. Ensure that legal provisions, including in customary, religious and indigenous laws, whether explicit provisions, or the application of general punitive provisions such as acts against nature, morality, public decency, vagrancy, sodomy and propaganda laws, do not criminalize sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or establish any form of sanction relating to them;
B. Repeal other forms of criminalization and sanction impacting on rights and freedoms on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics, including the criminalization of sex work, abortion, unintentional transmission of HIV, adultery, nuisance, loitering and begging;
C. Pending repeal, cease to apply discriminatory laws criminalizing or applying general punitive sanctions on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics;Expunge any convictions and erase any criminal records for past offences associated with laws arbitrarily criminalizing persons on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics;
D. Ensure training for the judiciary, law enforcement officers and health care providers in relation to their human rights obligations regarding sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics;
E. Ensure that law enforcement officers and other individuals and groups are held accountable for any act of violence, intimidation or abuse based on the criminalization of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics;
F. Ensure effective access to legal support systems, justice and remedies for those who are affected by criminalization and penalization on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics;
G. Decriminalize body modification procedures and treatments that are carried out with prior, free and informed consent of the person.
Related Literature and Studies
According to a published work entitled “A Maine Guide to Employment Law”, which is a research compiled by Gabrielle Berube and James Davitt of the Bureau of Labor Education, Maine University (2008), sexual harassment is an unwelcomed sexual advance, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which affects a person’s employment, unreasonably interferes with work performance, or creates intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Furthermore, the guide says that sexual harassment is a deliberate and or repeated sexual or sexual-based behavior that is not welcome, not asked for, or not returned.
In the study entitled “The Experiences of Young Heterosexual Men as Victims of Street Harassment”, conducted by Trisia Jeun Valencia and Ma. Fatima Bullecer of San Beda College Alabang as published in The Bedan Journal of Psychology (2017, pp.185-190), revealed that the participants reported different methods of how they were harassed. One respondent said that he received a random and unsolicited explicit comment and action from a heterosexual man he passed by while walking in a low-lighted street. Another respondent had the same experience with the first respondent but the harasser was not a heterosexual man but a homosexual man. The homosexual man displayed inappropriate behavior like rubbing his crotch, sniffing, and providing unwanted comments. Both respondents did not react but just walked away to avoid confrontation. The researchers attributed the action of walking away to the feeling of fear of escalation. Another respondent reacted in another way. He confronted the perpetrator when touched by the harasser which resulted to physical assault. The study further revealed that the respondents’ reactions to their individual experiences were similar. Feelings of fear and anger were reiterated by majority of the respondents and that feeling is inevitable. The participants of the study voiced out that street harassment puts their safety and security at risk, be it physically and psychologically. This reaction according to the researchers can be attributed to the fact that harassment by strangers based on the study of Dhillon and Bakaya, is highly associated with heightened apprehension about safety. It is further revealed that most participants of the study recognized the omnipresence of street harassment, saying that it happens anywhere. Also, they said that increased awareness of the issue at hand is a recurring realization they thought of after their respective experiences. The researchers expressed that there is lack of lawful actions regarding street-based harassments in the Philippines which is quite alarming. Moreover, the study also espoused the need for legalities which were suggested by most of the respondents. The study further said that since the harassment happens in public and the act usually is quick, the chances for undergoing statutory processes are slim since the concept of street harassment is vague due to mismatches in the definitions and the term itself is not commonly used. The researchers quoted O’Neill in his study in 2013 that submission of laws would be hard because awareness of street harassment is not general.
The study of Marlén Miranda entitled “Gender-Based Violence: A Global Crisis that is Handled Ineffectually (2020) showed the following findings: 1) gender-based violence is institutional violence; 2) formal institutions, such as government and non-government bodies have a limited understanding of gender-based violence, which ultimately hinders their ability to combat the violence and limits who they aid; 3) the hegemonic discourse around gender-based violence does not encapsulate the realities of multi-marginalized individuals; and 4) acts of resistance arise as a result of failing institutions and instill pressure on society for more significant change.
The aforesaid study further revealed the following: 1) oppression can take on many forms. It can be internalized, interpersonal, cultural, or institutional; 2) structural forms of violence, such as racism, sexism heterosexism, and classicism, encompass all of these levels of oppression; 3) gender-based violence is complicated because this method of violence is constructed using existing structural forms of violence; 4) because gender-based violence was built in coalition with these oppressive structures, individuals who commit said acts of violence automatically reinforces the other structures and the oppressive dimensions in which they operate (internalized, interpersonal, cultural, and institutional); and 5) gender-based violence is a consequence of and reinforcer of historic oppressive structures.
Additionally, Miranda’s study also revealed the following: 1) that gender-based violence is institutional violence because, in all five (5) sample countries namely, Chile, Nepal, Jordan, Spain and the United States, this form of violence demonstrated all three (3) characteristics: the state was involved in perpetrating it, the government had ineffective legal frameworks to address it, and most institutions created to address the violence were impotent. In each of these countries, the state, in some shape or form, conducted acts of gender-based violence and were often protected by impunity rights, meaning they were exempt from punishment; 2) there is ineffective legal framework because these countries demonstrated difficulty either in the implementation of existing laws, lack of political power and consensus to update the constitution or failure to adopt laws that protect victims of gender-based violence; and 3) most institutions aimed at combating gender-based violence were impotent due to their lack of funding, low staffing, and insufficiency in political power. The study further revealed that in the five (5) countries studied, part of the reason why society has been unable to tackle Gender-Based Violence is that many of the formal institutions used to combat gender-based issued have limited understandings of Gender-Based Violence. Most try to combat it on a case to case basis, without realizing that the form of violence is systematic and institutional. Moreover, the findings of the study said that firstly, in government positions, there is lack in the representation of individuals with understanding of gender-related issues especially of women, LGBTQI individuals, and multi-marginalized individuals with vast knowledge on the subject; secondly, this government shortfall makes it difficult for victims to feel heard and for gender-related issues to be adequately addressed; and lastly, most government ministries focused on gender issues and non-government organizations (NGOs) have little political power, government funding, and understanding the complexities of gender-based violence, thus, hegemonic experiences dominate, and those not fitting these norms are left to address issues via other platforms or by themselves.
The American Psychological Association (APA) published the “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Clients” which provide psychologists with a frame of reference for the treatment of lesbian, gay and bisexual clients as well as basic information and further references in the areas of assessment, intervention, identity relationships, diversity, education, training and research. These pronouncements were adopted by the APA to address the stigma that surround homosexuality to the end that there will be no impairment in judgement, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities. The APA recognized the need for revision of the guidelines as there have been many changes in the field of lesbian, gay and bisexual psychology. It grounds itself in methodologically sound research, the APA Ethics Code and existing APA policy in informing professional practice with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients.
The Guidelines also provide the definition of terms for sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and coming out. They are defined as follows:
Sex is a person’s biological status and is typically categorized as male, female, or intersex.
Gender refers to the attitudes, feelings, behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex. If a person’s behavior conforms to the cultural expectations, then it is considered gender normative, otherwise, it is considered gender nonconformity.
Gender identity is the how one refers to oneself as male, female or transgender (APA, 2006). In the instance when “one’s gender identity and biological sex are not congruent the individual may identify as transexual or as another transgender category (ef. Gainor, 2000).
Gender Expression is the way a person communicates gender in a culture. It can be in terms of clothing, communication patterns and interests. The Guidelines noted that a person’s gender expression may not reflect his/her gender identity.
Sexual Orientation refers to the sex of those to whom one is sexually and romantically attracted.
Coming out refers to the process of acknowledging and accepting one’s own sexual orientation. It can also be regarded as the process of disclosing one’s sexual orientation to others.
Twenty-one (21) Guidelines are analyzed in this study. The first six (6) guidelines are focused on attitudes toward homosexuality and bisexuality. They are relevant to this study as it substantiates the challenges of living in a heterosexist society to people with nonheterosexual orientations. These challenges drive them to the point that they are forced to be closeted to protect themselves from minority stress. Minority stress can take the form of anti-gay jokes up to more serious negative events such as loss of employment, custody of children, physical and sexual assault.
The First Guideline contemplates of the Psychologists strive to understand the effects of stigma (i.e., prejudice, discrimination, and violence) and its various contextual manifestations in the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Stigma is a negative social attitude or social disapproval directed toward a characteristic of a person that can lead to prejudice and discrimination against an individual. When stigma manifests into prejudice and discrimination, overt acts of repulsion against those subjected to stigma occur. In sum, overt and covert heterosexism can be manifested.
Anti-gay victimization and discrimination have been associated with mental health problems and psychological distress (Cochran, Sullivan, & Mays, 2003; Gilman et al., 2001; Herek, Gillis, & Cogan, 1999; Mays & Cochran, 2001; I. H. Meyer, 1995; Ross, 1990; Rostosky, Riggle, Horne, & Miller, 2009). It is of common knowledge that when individuals are placed stressful environments a certain amount of stress will affect such individual. It certainly follows that when non-heterosexual individuals are singled out from others, they will inevitably be subjected to stress of various levels. Hence, Psychologists are urged to understand that stigmatization, prejudice and discrimination can be sources of stress and create concerns about the personal security of lesbian, gay and bisexual clients. By identifying the stigma, prejudice and discrimination that they face, psychologists may be able to understand the impact of stigma and therefore demonstrate awareness and validation, and therefore, provide a safe space for counseling. It was also noted by Moradi, van den Berg & Epting (2009) that different combinations of contextual factors related to gender, race, ethnicity, cultural background, social class, religious background, disability, geographic region, and other sources of identity can result in dramatically different stigmatizing pressures and coping styles.
The Second Guideline provides that lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations are not mental illnesses. Hooker’s (1957) study challenged the historical assumption of the contrary and found that there is no difference on projective test responses between nonclinical samples of heterosexual men and gay men. The notion that having a non-heterosexual orientation differentiates a person’s cognitive abilities from those having heterosexual orientation has been proven false. This means that refusing employment solely on the ground of one’s sexual orientation is an injustice and should not be treated as sufficient reason for doing such. The APA (2009b) “opposes the distortion and selective use of scientific data about homosexuality by individuals and organizations seeking to influence public policy and public opinion” (p. 122).
The Third Guideline states the psychologists’ understanding that same-sex attractions, feelings, and behavior are normal variants of human sexuality and that efforts to change sexual orientation have not been shown to be effective or safe. The article noted the presence of “sexual orientation change efforts” or SOCE. These SOCE are defined by APA (2009b) as therapeutic interventions intended to change, modify, or manage unwanted non-heterosexual orientations. Some clients report that non-heterosexual orientation is inconsistent with their religious beliefs and have sought to do so through so-called ex-gay programs or ministries according to Haldeman (2004) and Tozer & Hayes (2004). Reviews of literature found by APA show that they have consistently found that efforts to change sexual orientation were ineffective due to methodological problems such as biased sampling techniques, inaccurate classification of subjects, assessments based solely upon self-reports among others.
The Fourth Guideline encourages psychologists to recognize how their attitudes and knowledge about lesbian, gay and bisexual issues may be relevant to assessment and treatment and seek consultation or make appropriate referrals when indicated. The rationale behind this guideline is to make sure that personal bias does not play a role in the work of psychologists. It urges psychologists to acknowledge their limitations of their knowledge of the field and undertaking counseling poses the responsibility of following through the progress of client. The therapists implicit and explicit negative attitudes may impede the progress in psychotherapy. The APA Ethics Code (APA, 2002b, p. 1063) noted that psychologists are called to be “aware of and respect, cultural, individual, and role differences, including those due to … sexual orientation… and try to eliminate the effect on their work of biases based on [such] factors.”
The Fifth Guideline contemplates the psychologists strive to recognize the unique experiences of bisexual individuals. APA found that bisexual persons are affected by negative individual and societal attitudes toward bisexuality that are expressed by both heterosexual and gay/lesbian people. Dworkin (2001) added that bisexuality may not be regarded as a valid sexual orientation but instead viewed as a transitional state. Psychologists must familiarize themselves with the development of the bisexual identity including cultural differences relative to bisexuality and gender differences. It is also important for psychologists to examine their attitudes and identify their biases toward nontraditional relationships that bisexual may have.
The Sixth Guideline contemplates the psychologists strive to distinguish issues of sexual orientation from those of gender identity when working with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients. In fact, APA (2006) states that sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct characters of an individual.
The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Guidelines discusses the economic and workplace issues lesbian, gay and bisexual clients experience. The Safe Spaces Act or RA 11313 specifically allocated a title addressing the gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace. These Guidelines pinpoint the challenges lesbian, gay and bisexual persons face at work.
The Seventeenth Guideline encourages consideration on the impact of socio-economic status on the psychological well-being of lesbian, gay and bisexual clients. According to the data gathered in a 1995 study, lesbian, gay and bisexual men and women are often at economic disadvantage in contrast to their heterosexual counterparts. Badgett found that gay men earned between 11% and 27% less than heterosexual males. These findings may be derived from the existing stigma in their sexual orientation. Badgett, Lau, Sears & Ho (2007) found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals have been fired, denied promotion, given negative performance evaluations, and received unequal pay and benefits because of their sexual orientation. Hence, forging a direct relationship between sexual orientation and socio-economic status.
The Eighteenth Guideline contemplates the psychologists strive to understand the unique workplace issues that exist for lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals. The disadvantages in the workplace caused by the stigma on nonheterosexuality directly affects their socio-economic status. The unique workplace issues mentioned in this guideline pertains to barriers to vocational development and success of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals. Employment discrimination (Fassinger, 2008), wage discrimination (Badgett, 2003; Elmslie & Tebaldi, 2007) , lack of benefits (e.g., family medical leave, bereavement leave, childcare, same-sex partner benefits; Fassinger, 2008) are barriers hindering the success of lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals in the workplace.
Statement of the Problem
The Safe Spaces Act was signed into law by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and approved on April 17, 2019 served as a supplementary law to the existing Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 expanding to protect individuals from gender-based sexual harassment in streets and public spaces, online sexual harassment, the workplace, and educational and training institutions.
This being a fairly new law, the researchers are interested in discovering and analyzing how the Safe Spaces Act fit within the current dynamics of Gender Awareness and Development in the Province of Negros Occidental. Public and private institutions alike are bound to embrace the growing diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression in the workplace, at educational and training institutions, online and in the community as a whole.
The study sought to answer the following questions:
- What is the negative impact of gender-based sexual harassment on a survivor’s life?
- What are the barriers that hinder victims from reporting incidents involving gender-based sexual harassment?
- How will injured parties seek out the remedies laid out by the Safe Spaces Act when such Gender-based harassment happens: (a)in streets and public places; (b) through online and social media platforms; (c) at the workplace; and (d) in educational and training institutions.
- How should the Safe Spaces Act be implemented by public and private sectors to encourage the reporting of gender-based sexual harassment?
The ultimate goal of this paper is to become part of the solution to reduce Gender-Based Sexual Harassment and to promote Safe Spaces in Negros Occidental.
Significance of the Study
Gender-based sexual harassment can affect a victim slightly or too seriously. The impact of the harassment to a victim depends on one’s coping mechanism or how one deals with the situation. Recognizing the degree to which one victim is affected by the harassment is important so that one can move toward formulating measures and actions in order to provide a safe space for them. Specifically, this study is envisioned to benefit the following:
The Gender-based Harassment Victims. Primarily, this is the group that would reap the most benefit from this study since the output would disclose, among others the ways they can seek out the remedies laid out by the Safe Spaces Act;
The Local Government Units. Because the LGUs, under Section 8 of SSA and Section 9 of its implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code of 1991, are mandated to prevent and respond to gender-based sexual harassment (GBSH) in streets and public spaces, this sector will find the study beneficial because if will uncover the problems encountered by the GBSH victim-survivors in terms of assistance and support accorded to them by their respective LGU;
The Employers and Heads of Office of Private Institutions and Educational or Training Institutions. This study will prove to be beneficial to them as it would inform them of the duties imposed to them by the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the SSA as well as their liabilities in case of non-observance of duties. They will also be guided on how to draft the Code of Conduct as mandated by the IRR based on the output provided by the respondents of the survey on their experiences of GBSH;
The National and Local Legislators. The experience encountered by the GBSH victim-survivors, particularly in the legal aspect, will prove to be a valuable input to them as they strive to improve their respective laws in terms of penalties and punishments;
The Researchers. As women themselves, the completion of this study is a source of satisfaction for them, who at one point in their lives, have directly or indirectly connected themselves with some victim-survivors. This study will afford them the opportunity to provide significant contribution to the LGU in terms of how to help the victim-survivors regain their dignity;
Other Researchers. Gender-based sexual harassment has been and is still present in our country and, yet the law addressing such was passed last August 17, 2018 – more than 2 years ago. This being a new law, the Researchers would like to take this opportunity to call upon others to continuously search and develop solutions that would address this long-standing issue. With this, other Researchers may be able to make use of this material as a basis for further studies; and
The Community as a Whole. This study will expand this sector’s views on gender-based sexual harassment (GBSH) and help guide accordingly in case anyone in the community fall victim to GBSH. This study discusses acts that are considered GBSH that the general public may or may not know and the penalties that would be imposed in case of violation of the Safe Spaces Act.
This section presents the procedures used in the study. It consists of the research environment, the research design, the sampling design and technique, the respondents of the study, a description of the research instrument, the research procedures undertaken, and the statistical tools used.
The study was conducted within the different cities and municipalities of the Province of Negros Occidental including the highly-urbanized city of Bacolod. Due to the prevalence of the COVID-19 pandemic, adoptive and modern modes of research and making use of the internet were employed to facilitate the conduct of the study. With the help of experts coming from both the private and public sector, the researchers were able to ensure the successful conduct of this study despite pressing limitations.
This paper is in compliance with one of the major requirements in the College of Law of the University of St. La Salle Bacolod, specifically in the subject Law 105 – Legal Research and Thesis Writing, a 2-unit course. In this regard, the researchers will attempt to dissect and investigate the current status and impact of gender-based sexual harassment in the promotion of the Safe Spaces Act in Negros Occidental.
This study principally used the descriptive research design. It made use of structured survey questionnaires for target participants from the private and public sector including those from the Local Government Units. Moreover, an interview schedule was drafted for the experts coming from the provincial government and the different concerned national government agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the Department of Education, among others.
To beef up the paper, information and secondary data from relevant statutes, jurisprudence, journals, books, published and unpublished theses, other reference materials, and the Internet were used.. Descriptive statistical tools such as frequency distribution, percentage distribution, ranking, and weighted arithmetic mean were utilized to summarize, organize, and simplify the data collected from the survey.
Sampling Design and Technique
The study used simple random sampling selection wherein each member of the population was given an equal opportunity to become part of the sample. It is the simplest form of probability sampling which is done using lottery or raffle method of determining the representative sample. This method involved the selection of the sample at random from a given sampling frame (Saunders et al., 2009).
Given a small population of 200 possible respondents, at least 50 percent of the computed sample size was surveyed.
This study made used of three groups of respondents. The first group was confined to select respondents coming from the private and public sectors of the province of Negros Occidental including students, youth sectors, and employees among others who are potential victims of gender-based sexual harassment who may be male or female. Under this group, there were a total of one hundred and two (102) respondents who were surveyed using the general questionnaire. The second group consists of a total of twenty-one respondents from the different LGUs in the province were also asked to answer a specific questionnaire. The third group consists of three (3) LGU personnel who were experts in their fields. They were interviewed to provide a better grasp on the subject matter pursuant to the mandates of their offices.
The study made use of both primary and secondary data. A questionnaire was developed to obtain the primary data necessary for the study. Two (2) different survey questionnaires were used to ask about (1) relevant experiences of the participants on gender-based sexual harassment in streets and public places, public utility vehicles, on the internet and other online media platforms, in the workplace and educational and training institutions, and (2) the current program implementation of the LGUs pursuant to the mandate of R.A. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act. The aforesaid questionnaires consisted mostly close-ended questions and check lists. Said questionnaires basically asked about the demographic profile of the respondents and their relevant experiences. Moreover, concerned LGU personnel were also asked on their level of awareness of the pertinent law including the current implementation in their area of responsibility.
Pre-testing. Pre-testing refers to the dry-run of the research questionnaire to test for the validity, reliability and effectiveness of the formulated research questions. It takes into consideration the clarity of the key research elements, the vagueness of the statements, the time it will take a respondent to answer the questions, and the duration and convenience in tabulating the responses (Rivera & Rivera, 2007). Through this test, the survey questionnaire can be improved, thereby providing significant solutions to identified problems and enabling the researcher to easily and accurately tabulate the responses.
The questionnaire used as primary data gathering instrument was accomplished by two (2) randomly selected individuals who answered the questions. The results indicated that all the questions were responded to by the pre-test participants, hence, they were included in the survey proper results.
Data Gathering. A transmittal letter seeking permission from the respondents were given together with the prepared questionnaire. The researcher sent out the questionnaires via email, Facebook Messenger and other online media platforms employing networking techniques through friends, families, co-workers, and personal and professional acquaintances for easy and fast questionnaire retrieval in the months of November and December 2020. Distribution and retrieval was done within the predefined collection period.
Treatment of Data. The study conducted was primarily descriptive in nature. Presentation of surveyed data was done in two ways. They are through tables and graphs. Frequency and percentage distribution was used to present relevant data in tabular form. Tabulation, analysis and summarization of data was done using the appropriate statistical tools. Microsoft Excel was also employed to assist the researcher in data tabulation.
Frequency distribution, percentage distribution, ranking, and weighted arithmetic mean, were used to summarize, analyze, and interpret the data gathered. For easier and faster analysis, the functions of Microsoft Excel and PHStat were used to assist the researcher in the performance of multiple calculations essential to the appropriate presentation of the gathered data.
Frequency Distribution. This was accomplished by grouping the data together into a number of classes. This statistical tool presented the data in a relatively condensed form and gave an excellent picture of the information gathered.
Percentage Distribution. The researcher further converted the frequency distribution into corresponding percentage distribution. This was accomplished by dividing each class of the frequency distribution by the number of items in a group and multiplying the quotient by one hundred (100) percent. This statistical tool was used to treat the demographic profile, and employment status, and history of the respondents, among others.
Percentage= f/n x (100)
f = frequency of a response n = total number of responses
Weighted Mean. This statistical tool was utilized to give quantities being averaged a proper degree of importance by assigning them weights. The formula is:
x̄ = ( Σ xi ) / n
n = number of responses ∑ f(x) = sum of weighted responses
This section contains the presentation, analysis, and interpretation of the data gathered. The tabular presentation is used in presenting the quantitative data obtained. Charts are used to highlight and further emphasize certain data groups. The data gathered were provided by one hundred and two (102) general respondents and twenty-three (23) LGU respondents. Moreover, three (3) expert resource persons were interviewed to provide additional source data and insights on the relevant issue tackled in this case study.
General Profile of the Respondents
To have a better understanding of the results of the study, the presentation of the survey outcome begins with the essential demographic background of the general respondents. The demographic and other profile variables considered in this study are age, place of origin or residence, employment status, civil statues, and gender-related variables such as sex assignment at birth, gender identity, current sexual orientation and gender expression preference.
Ages of Respondents
Table 1 above shows the profile of the respondents according to their respective ages. Mostly, the surveyed respondents belong to the twenty (20) to twenty-five (25) and twenty-six (26) to thirty (30) age ranges representing twenty-nine (29) or 28.43 percent and twenty-seven (27) or 26.47 percent, respectively. Given that most of the respondents are currently employed as shown in Figure 2, it is but evident that most of them are above twenty (20) years old. It is noteworthy to take notice that a handful of the respondents are twenty (20) years old and below with eighteen responses represent 17.65 percent of the total.
Place of Origin/Residence of the Respondents
Figure 2 below summarizes the general area of origin of the respondents in relation to Figure 1 above. Of those surveyed, most of the respondents representing eighty-one (81) or 79.41 percent of the total come from either of the twelve (12) component cities within the province including the highly-urbanized city of Bacolod namely, Bago City, Cadiz City, Escalante City, Himamaylan City, Kabankalan City, San Carlos City, Silay City, Talisay City, and Victorias City, among others. Moreover, some of the respondents come from one of the nineteen (19) component municipalities in the province representing eighteen (18) or 17.65 percent of the total such as the Municipalities of Candoni, Cauayan, Don Salvador Benedicto, E.B. Magalona, Hinigaran, Hinoba-an, Ilog, Murcia and Pontevedra.
General Area of Origin of the Respondents
With the apparent nature of this case study pursuant to the prevalence of sexual harassment in the province in relation to the promotion of the Safe Spaces Act on streets and public spaces, public utility vehicles, on the internet and other social media platforms, in the workplace, and in educational and training institutions, there is a noticeable diversity in the employment status (Figure 3) of the pool of respondents who are either employed, unemployed and currently enrolled in an academic institution. Of those surveyed, majority come from the employed group, representing sixty-seven (67) responses or 65.69 percent of the total. Additionally, fourteen (14) or 13.73 percent and twenty-one (21) or 20.59 percent come from the unemployed sector and current members of the student group, respectively. This data is very significant in the study because it will provide a wider picture on the possible sexual harassment and gender-related issues experienced by the different surveyed groups in relation to the better understanding on aforesaid offense and its impact on the legislative actions that are currently in place and will be undertaken by the concerned legislators in the near future.
Employment Status of the Respondents
Figure 4 that follows show the civil status of the respondents who are either single, married, separated or widowed. Of those surveyed, majority, representing sixty-seven (67) or 66 percent of the total are single or unmarried. Twenty-eight (28) are married, five (5) are separated and two (2) are widowed. Since most of the surveyed population are below thirty-five (35) years of age, it is but apparent that most of the responses come from the unmarried cluster.
Civil Status of the Respondents
Gender-Based Sexual Harassment Profile of the Respondents
The current recognition by the international community including the Philippines on the existence and unregulated prevalence of gender-based sexual harassment has paved the way for law makers to enact a law that expands beyond the four-corners of the current sexual harassment and violence against women and children act. This case study also attempts to profile the general nature and experiences of the residence of the Negros Occidental. This section will present the gender-based sexual harassment profile of the one hundred and two (102) respondents of this study.
Figure 5 below presents the profile of the respondents in relation to their sex assignment by birth. Sex assignment pertains to the classification of an infant at the time of birth which could either be male or female. Studies and jurisprudence have showed that children born with ambiguous genitalia are assigned such by either their parent or by physicians (American Psychological Association, 2015). The survey results show that of the one hundred and two (102) responses, sixty (60) or 58.82 percent belong to the female sex while forty-two (42) or 41.18 percent belong to the male sex. Thus, majority of this case study’s responses are from those with female sex assignment at birth.
Sex Assignment at Birth
According to the American Psychological Association, gender identity refers to a person’s sense of oneself as either male, female or transgender or queer. It is a deeply felt and inherent sense of maleness, femaleness or that of the alternative which may or may not be the one’s sex assigned at birth. When biological sex and gender identity are not congruent with each other, he or she may identify as transexual or that of another transgender category. Figure 6 reveals that the surveyed respondents have gender identity that is either man, woman or queer. Forty-four (44) or 43.14 percent said that they are women. Thirty-three (33) or 32.35 percent said that they are men while the remaining twenty-five (25) or 24.51 percent said that they are queer. This data shows that there is indeed a disparity between sex assignment at birth (Figure 5) and gender identity (Figure 6).
Figure 7 shows the current sexual orientation of the surveyed respondents. According to the surveyed respondents, their current sexual orientation is either heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, demisexual or asexual. In the article entitled “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People” by the American Psychological Association (2015), sexual orientation refers to a component of a person’s identity that includes sexual and emotional attraction for another person and its accompanying behavior as a result of the said attraction. An individual may be attracted to either a man, woman, both man and woman, neither to a man or woman or to people who are genderqueer, androgynous or possess other gender identities.
Of the responses, fifty-six (56) have identified their current sexual orientation as heterosexual. Twenty-one (21) said that they are homosexuals while nineteen (19) are bisexuals. About four (4) of the respondents said that they are demisexual while two (2) said that they are asexual.
Current Sexual Orientation
The figure that follows summarizes the gender expression of the one hundred and two (102) respondents of this study.
Gender expression or the way in which a person communicates his or her gender within a given culture through physical appearance, choice of clothing and accessories, behavior, communications and interests may differ from one person to another (American Psychological Association, 2015). Based on the responses, fifty-five (55) or 53.92 percent are feminine while thirty-five (35) or 34.31 percent are masculine. A smaller portion of the respondents said that they have androgynous gender expression represent twelve (12) or 11.76 percent of those surveyed.
Gender-Based Sexual Harassment Experiences of the Respondents
From this case study, it is clear that the surveyed respondents have varied gender-based sexual harassment experiences. Be it straight or gay people have in one way or another been subjected to harassment or any form of unwarranted and sexualized attention which could either be physical, verbal, psychological and emotional in nature.
Respondents’ Experiences on Any Unwelcomed, Unreasonable and Offensive Physical, Psychological and Emotional Threats, Unwanted Sexual or Sexist Remarks and Comments Online or Offline Including Invasion of Privacy
As shown in the pie chart (Figure 9), a greater portion of the respondents were in one way or another subjected to unwelcomed, unreasonable and offensive physical, psychological and emotional threats, unwanted sexual or sexist remarks and comment either online or offline. Sixty-five (65) representing 63.73 percent of the responses gave an affirmative response while thirty-seven (37) or 36.27 percent said otherwise. This clearly shows that harassment in any form is prevalent and somehow experienced by regular people in their daily lives. Moreover, it is important to note that others may not be aware that they are already victims of this kinds of abuse due to ambivalence, indifference or ignorance.
Manner or Form of Sexual Harassment
The figure above (Figure 10) shows the different forms of sexual harassment experienced by the surveyed respondents. Of the sixty-five (65) affirmative responses signifying having experienced sexual harassment as presented in Figure 9, twenty-eight (28) or 43.08 percent are in the form of verbal harassment, twenty-five (25) or 38.46 percent are through emotional or psychological means, while twelve (12) or 18.46 percent are physical in nature. In whatever form or manner it is, sexual harassment is and will always be considered wrong because it violates the individuality of a person and the guaranteed constitutional rights of freedom of expression and equality before the law.
Sexual harassment and other forms of unwelcomed advances or comments from people may happen anywhere. According to the responses, the surveyed participants have been exposed to sexualization and objectivization in the streets or public spaces, while onboard public transportation, while surfing the internet and online media platforms, in the workplace, and in educational and training institutions. As summarized in Table 2 shown below, most of the study respondents have experienced harassment in streets and public spaces, representing twenty-six (26) or 30.95 percent of the total responses. Moreover, said harassment had also been experienced by the respondents in the workplace and on the internet and online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, representing nineteen (19) or 22.62 percent and seventeen (17) or 20.24 percent of the population, respectively. Furthermore, it is worthy to mention that the study participants have been victims not only in one area or location as abovementioned. They have been victimized in either one or more avenues and locations, as the case may be.
Place/Location of Harassment
n = 65
Relationship may know no boundaries. A harasser or offender may come from one of the victim’s closest relatives, friends or respected mentors or bosses. The apparent animalistic and barbaric nature of humans sometimes may know no limits, hence, causing discomfort on the intended victim. Also, victims may not only be females or the young and the elderly but may include males and gay people.
As indicated in Table 3 that follows, of the sixty-five (65) respondents who have indicated that they were once or oftentimes been victims of sexual harassment, their offenders or harassers may be their significant other/s or maybe a stranger to them. The same table provides that some have been victimized by more than one perpetrator, hence, the multiple answers. Thirty-five (35) or 47.94 percent of sixty-five (65) individuals have been victimized by strangers or persons unknown to them. Likewise, friends or acquaintances and co-workers or superiors whom they respect may also be harassers representing nineteen (19) or 26.03 percent and twelve (12) or 16.44 percent, respectively. However, even persons whom one is intimate with can be an aggressor or offender. Of the responses, at least three (3) or 4.11 percent said the same.
Relationship with/to the Harasser
n = 65
It is also a revealing fact as provided by the responses that the filing of a formal complaint relative to a harassment or unwanted sexual objectivization is far from reality. As shown by the pie chart (Figure 11) that follows, only two (2) or 3.08 percent of sixty-five of the study population are brave enough to file a formal complaint. The greater portion, representing sixty-three (63) of the total responses or 96.92 percent said otherwise. The reasons behind why such complaints or notifications were not filed are summarized in Table 5 below.
Filing of Harassment Complaint
In support to Figure 11, Table 4 below indicates where the formal complaints are filed. Of the two (2) brave responses, the victims have sought the help of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the locality and the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) of their place of employment to seek redress against their victimizers. It is also noteworthy to point out that based on the interview conducted with the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), victims of sexual harassment or abuse tend to not report nor file formal complaints against their abusers because of fear or abandonment and the apparent stigma brought about by the shameful incident. Likewise, all of the expert interviewees from the BCPO, DepEd and the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental revealed that victims tend to keep their mouths shut and forget about the incident because of the heightened fear and eventual consequence that may befall them due to the incident. Initial reporting of the incident to either the local PNP and other office or person of authority may be done which will eventually be withdrawn.
Where Formal Complaint was Filed
Moreover, ignorance to laws, policies and regulations is but a fact that cannot be denied. When asked, less than 25 percent of the surveyed population are very knowledgeable and informed of where a formal complaint against gender-based sexual harassment may be filed. According to Figure 12, seventy-seven (77) of the total surveyed have no or have minimal knowledge on where to file a formal complaint.
This is a very revealing fact and an eye opener that proves that there is a gap or barrier as to the level of information provided to the general population on how to protect themselves from any form of harassment that may be prevailing in today’s modern civilization. This fact is not only true in the Philippines but also apparent worldwide as provided by relevant studies and international laws and jurisprudence.
According to a representative from the Department of Education of Negros Occidental, proper information-dissemination is a key tool in ensuring that every Filipino, most especially the masses have access to the right information in relation to gender-based sexual harassment, specifically when and how to report complaints. Moreover, there should be a working knowledge on what gender-based sexual harassment is so as to be able to take active steps in preventing it. The BCPO representative added that every advocate and member of the government sector responsible for helping the victimized sector of society should be continuously and regularly trained on how to handle relevant cases including updates of relevant laws and statutes that may affect the implementation of how these cases will be handled.
Level of Knowledge on Where to File Formal Complaints
There are various reasons why incidence of gender-based sexual harassment will never be reported or filed. Table 5 below summarizes the reasons behind the non-filing of such. The non-recognition of the seriousness of the lived experience of gender-based sexual harassment is the foremost reason why complaints are not filed according to the respondents representing forty-one (41) or 29.93 percent of the total responses. Embarrassment, shame, and emotional difficulty ranks second according to the responses representing thirty-seven (37) or 27.01 percent. Furthermore, twenty-six (26) or 18.98 percent of the respondents added that they do not know where to go or whom to report their bad experience. Additionally, fear of negative consequences, fear of violation of confidentiality, feeling of helplessness or nothing can be done and not wanting the offender to get into trouble are among the other responses provided by the study participants.
Reasons Why a Formal Complaint on Harassment was Not Filed
n = 102
Profile of Respondents from the Local Government Units (LGUs)
This section highlights the profile of the LGU-respondents all over the province. To ensure that this case study is comprehensive and best representative of the research framework itself, there was a need to survey and ask the wisdom of those belonging to the local government units (LGUs) in the province. Apparently, the researchers have recognized that the best persons who have the authority to provide certain needed information come from the actual persons-in-charge of the implementation and localization of the law itself including but not limited to concerned city or municipal employees and their partner national government agencies such as the DILG and the PNP.
Table 6 summarizes the different LGU-respondents including partner agencies who were selected as survey respondents in this study such as the city or municipal social welfare and development officers, city or municipal planning and development coordinators and their counterpart DILG field officers. Majority of the respondents come from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) representing fourteen (14) out of the twenty-three (23) responses. Moreover, seven (7) of the responses come from the local social welfare officers and one (1) local planning coordinator of the different cities and municipalities in the province. A member of the GAD Focal Point system of the province also provided a response to the questionnaire.
Because of devolution pursuant to the Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160), the social welfare and development officer now falls under the jurisdiction of the Local Chief Executive (LCE). It is the city or municipal social welfare officer or his or her assigned staff’s responsibility with the assistance and in partnership with the local planning office to ensure that LGU efforts include programs, projects and activities that localize the Safe Spaces Act (SSA). As an addition to PPAs addressing violence against women and children, human trafficking and sexual harassment, among others, the Safe Spaces Act is now required as one of the essential Gender and Development (GAD) mandate to be included in the LGU GAD Plan and Budget (GPB). With active LGU efforts together with that of the provincial government, there is an assurance that a safe space will be created for every person regardless of gender, gender identity, gender expression or gender preference.
Organization/Department of Origin of the LGU Respondents
To complete the profile of the LGU respondents, their place of assignment and length of service are summarized in Tables 7 and 8 that follow. A total of eighteen (18) different LGUs were surveyed including the province of which six (6) come from component cities and eleven (11) from component municipalities. At least one (1) representative comes from the target LGUs. It is important to notice that the Municipality of Manapla had three (3) responses representing 13.04 percent of the population who come from the DILG, the local planning office and the social welfare and development office.
Place of Assignment of the Respondents
As indicated by Table 8, most, if not all of the responses come from veteran LGU and NGA employees who had been in public service for more than eight (8) years. This data is indicative that they are knowledgeable in their fields of assignment and have dedicated their work life in ensuring that the different program, projects, and activities of the national government including relevant national statutes, laws and regulations through local ordinances have been incorporated to that of the LGU itself. However, experience in public service is not enough to ensure responsiveness to the different issuances of Congress including that of the different administrative departments who are tasked with issuing implementing rules and regulations. With the issuance of Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2020-001 dated December 7, 2020 of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) entitled “Guidelines on the Localization of the Safe Spaces Act”, there is no reason why the different local governments cannot incorporate such law and implement it in their area of responsibility through the legislative efforts of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Panlungsod or Bayan and executive actions of the Local Chief Executives.
Length of Service of the LGU Respondents
Implementation of the Safe Spaces Act in the Local Government Units (LGUs)
The issuance of DILG-PCW JMC No. 2020-001is now an assurance that every LGU throughout the country will localize the implementation of the Safe Spaces Act. Despite the delayed release of the localized guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected the entire globe, there is no longer a barrier to ensure that the SSA will not be rolled-out at the local level. Given that the local government units including the barangays are at the forefronts in dealing with incidence of gender-based sexual harassments, local authorities are now provided and equipped with policy guidelines that will allow them to address one of the pressing gender-based issues affecting people. With the SSA’s implementation at the local level, public places will more likely be considered a safe space for each and every person.
The issuance of R.A. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act in 2019 has not been well publicized or may have been put at a standstill due to the global pandemic that took its peak in March 2020. As illustrated by the pie chart (Figure 13), there is an alarming low awareness by the members of the LGU on the existence of the aforesaid law. Of the twenty-three (23) respondents, only six (6) or 26.09 percent are aware of such law which was issued more than two (2) years ago. Only the Cities of Cadiz and Talisay and the Municipalities of Cauayan, Calatrava, Manapla and Pulupandan are aware of the law and more than 50 percent of the LGU-respondents are not aware. However, such ignorance or apparent unawareness does not excuse one from its salient provisions because ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance thereof.
Awareness of the Existence of the Safe Spaces Act
Because of the ostensible poor awareness as to the existence of the said law, it is but obvious that only a few LGUs have rolled-out and incorporated the law in their local plans. Based on the responses, only the City of Cadiz and the Municipalities of Ilog, Calatrava and Manapla had rolled-out R.A. No. 11313 which represent only 30.43 percent of the twenty-three (23) responses received. Sixteen (16) respondents responded in the negative.
Thus, the timely release of the Safe Spaces Act localization guidelines on December 7, 2020 and the active campaign of the province of Negros Occidental during the 2020 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women as mandated by Proclamation 1172, series of 2006 and as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution will pave the way for more visible and reactive efforts to incorporate efforts to combat, prevent, if not eliminate the existence of gender-based harassment against any individual, most especially among women, children, elderly and those who are considered members of the minor gender group such as the queers, transgenders or gay folks.
*multiple responses provided
Local Government Units Where the Safe Spaces Act has Been Rolled-out
Figure 15 and Table 9 that follow consistently paints this frustrating reality that the SSA has not been fully integrated into the local plans of the LGU. As revealed in Table 9, only seven (7) LGUs, namely Cadiz City, San Carlos City, Talisay City, Calatrava, Ilog, Manapla and Pontevera have integrated the provisions and mandate of the SSA into their GAD Plan and Budget which represents less than 50 percent of those surveyed and less than 50 percent of the LGUs in the entire province.
*multiple responses provided
Local Government Units That Have Integrated the Safe Spaces Act to its GAD Plan and Budget and Allocated Funds for the Purpose
The GAD Plan and Budget which is one of the local plans of the LGU that outlines the program, projects and activities (PPAs) of the LGU, serves as one of the essential working documents required as attachment to the LGU’s appropriations ordinance which will authorize the spending of local funds as mandated by law. Given such importance, every LGU should not take lightly the need of the LGU to implement PPAs that are responsive to the need of the constituents. Every effort should be geared towards addressing relevant and pressing issues that directly or indirectly the citizens as a whole. According to the Provincial GAD Focal Point System, they will strictly check, and review submitted 2021 and succeeding GAD Plans and Budgets to ensure compliance and responsiveness of all identified LGU PPAs which should be in alignment to the provincial government’s campaign to ensuring that every Negrense feel safe wherever they may be from harassment which may come in any form and shape.
Local Government Units That Have Integrated the Safe Spaces Act in the GAD Plan and Budget and Allocated Funds for the Purpose
With the integration of the Safe Spaces Act in some of the 2021 LGU GAD Plan and Budget, it is important to take notice that the aforesaid seven (7) LGUs as enumerated in Table 9 above have included SSA advocacy campaigns, information, education and dissemination campaigns and training and capacity development initiatives as PPAs to address its GAD mandate pursuant to the provisions of the SSA and its localization guidelines. There were multiple responses for each of these three (3) important PPAs which will promote greater awareness and ensure adherence to a new law which will greatly affect and improve the standard of living of those affected population group and their significant others. With improvement in the lived experience of the affected sectors, the locality will be a safer environment to live in.
Figure 16 depicts the preference of the LGUs on information, education and dissemination campaigns and trainings and capacity development activities as an appropriate PPA in implementing the Safe Spaces Act with four (4) and five (5) responses, respectively representing 36.36 percent and 45.45 percent of the total.
*multiple responses provided
Programs, Projects and Activities the LGUs have Integrated into the GPB
As the government agency tasked by the President of the Philippines to exercise general supervision functions over LGUs as provided in the 1987 Constitution and Local Government Code of 1991 (R.A. No. 7160), the DILG plays a key role in the implementation of the Safe Spaces Act nationwide. It is sad to note that not all of the respondents surveyed are aware of the role that this department play in ensuring the full implementation of the said act. As shown in Figure 17, thirteen (13) respondents responded in the affirmative while ten (10) responded in the negative which represents 56.52 percent and 43.48 percent of the total, respectively. Nevertheless, given the issuance of the Joint Memorandum Circular of the DILG and the Philippine Commission of Women (PCW), the LGU’s level of awareness will be broadened.
It will always be the role of the DILG to guide LGUs in complying with their different mandates pursuant to the Constitution, the Local Government Code and other laws and statutes. In the coming months and with the LGUs due to prepare their annual GAD Plan and Budget for the next budget year, the DILG will strengthen the incorporation of the SSA in all local plans in partnership with the provincial government through the provincial planning and development coordinator and the GAD Focal Point System. As key partner of the local officials in ensuring that the needs of the entire citizenry are met at the local level by complying with its mandate as enumerated in Section 9 of the law (R.A. No. 11313) and summarized in Table 10.
Awareness on the DILG’s Role in the Full Implementation of the Safe Spaces Act
According to R.A. No. 11313 otherwise known as the Safe Spaces Act, it is the DILG’s role to: (1) inspect LGUs if they have disseminated or posted in conspicuous places a copy of this Act and the corresponding ordinance; (2) conduct and disseminate surveys and studies on best practices of LGUs in implementing this Act; and (3) provide 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).
The survey revealed that as to the three (3) roles of the DILG, respondents are only aware of the one (1) of the three (3) roles of the DILG. Twelve (12) responses representing 92.31 percent of the total population said that they are aware that it is the DILG’s responsibility to inspect if the LGU has enacted an ordinance localizing the law and disseminating and/or posting both the national law and ordinance in conspicuous places in the locality. Additionally, one (1) respondent is aware that DILG has a key role also in providing technical assistance in the provision of capacity building and training activities which will ensure the implementation of the act.
Role of the DILG in the Full Implementation of the Safe Spaces Act
Due to the novelty of this Act, it is but normal that there are few reported cases relevant to violations of its provisions. As summarized by the figure that follows (Figure 18), two (2) out of the twenty-three (23) responses which represents 8.70 percent of the population are aware of reported cases. Only the City of Cadiz and Manapla answered in the affirmative while the rest in the negative. This is indeed a very revealing information that the lack of awareness on the matter will bar victims to report possible incidence.
In the coming months or years, the researchers believe that with active information, education and dissemination and advocacy campaigns, the Safe Spaces Act will be one of the vital laws gender-based sexual harassment victims may avail of. With the inherent negative stigma associated with victims of reported violence cases, the advocates of this law should ensure that the people at large most especially the vulnerable sectors of the population will be made aware that this law is not to be ignored with. It should be used to exercise their inherent right to equal protection and right of self-expression before the law as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Awareness on Reported Complaints in Relation to Violations of the Safe Spaces Act
In advocating R.A. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act, people should also be made aware of the different government departments and local offices and rights advocate groups who can help them seek redress suffered from offenders. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Philippine Council of Women (PCW), the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the local government units such as the province, city, municipal or barangay, among others are part of the referral groups who can assist them in seeking justice pursuant to this law.
Assistance and Referrals Made
It is sad to note that according to the two respondents from Cadiz City and Manapla who are aware of complaints filed pursuant to R.A. 11313, referrals were only made to the local police and local social welfare and development offices. In response to this, active efforts should be made to increase the citizenry’s knowledge on other possible referral groups who can help them combat and address gender-based sexual harassment, among others.
Moreover, the presence of advocacy groups in the locality who can provide support and assistance to gender-based sexual harassment victims should be paramount. Their presence in the locality should be made known. There are local advocate groups and localized national organizations present in Negros Occidental such as Pilipinas and Young Feminist Collective among others. As revealed in Figure 20 below, only four (4) or 17.39 percent of the LGU respondents are aware of the presence of local advocacy groups.
Awareness on the Presence of Advocacy Groups in the Locality
The Safe Spaces Act (SSA) or R.A. No. 11313 brought to light issues that were unnamed and left unaddressed by the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law of 1995 or R.A. No. 7877 by setting forward the issue of gender-based sexual harassment (GBSH) and providing solutions to prevent and address the issue.
The definition of sexual harassment under R.A. No. 7877 was limited as it only covered acts committed in work, educational, and training institutions. It also does not penalize sexual harassment acts committed in other spaces such as on the streets, restaurants and malls, public utility vehicles and other public spaces. R.A. No. 11313 expands the law on sexual harassment to cover verbal, non-verbal, and physical; thereby, securing all persons, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression, from all kinds of gender-based violence and discrimination.
Gender-based sexual harassment is indeed unnamed at the time of the drafting and the subsequent enforcement of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law of 1995 or R.A. No. 7877 but this issue was not unknown. A significant amount of related foreign laws and statutes, literature and studies conducted in the Philippine setting and abroad prove that GBSH has been existing even before R.A. No. 7877.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1979. It defines discrimination against women as “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field”.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948 in Paris serve as a roadmap to guarantee the rights of every individual anywhere. The key points mentioned in this Declaration are in Article 7, that is, “all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of law” and Article 8 which states that “everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental human right granted to him by the constitution or by the law”.
The Ontario Human Rights Code (1990) defined GBSH as one type of sexual harassment. It is any behavior that polices and reinforces traditional heterosexual norms, used to follow traditional sex stereotypes, a bullying tactic, and is not generally motivated by sexual interest or intent but rather based on hostility. It is often used as an attempt to make the target feel unwelcome in the environment.
The Yogyakarta Principles are international principles concerning sexual orientation and gender identity considered as a universal guide to human rights affirming binding international legal standards with which all States must comply. The formulation of such document affirms the primary obligation of the State to implement human rights. These principles were brought about by impunity for crimes of violence against LGBT persons.
Gender-based sexual harassment according to the Safe Spaces Act can occur in various places: (1) in streets and public places including public utility vehicles; (2) through online and social media platforms; (3) at the workplace; and in educational and training institutions. It can be in the form of unwanted and uninvited sexual actions or remarks against any person, regardless of the motive for committing such action or remarks, acts that use information and communications technology in terrorizing and intimidating victims such as invasion of victim’s privacy through cyberstalking or incessant messaging, sharing without the consent of the victim any form of media that contains photos, voice or video with sexual content, unwelcome sexual advances, requests or favors that has or could have a detrimental effect on the conditions of an individual’s employment, education, job performance or opportunities, among others.
Through the Safe Spaces Act, previously unaddressed sexual harassment acts in a peer-to-peer and subordinate-superior set-up that happen in the workplace, GBSH acts perpetrated with the use of information and communications technology, and GBSH acts that occur in public utility vehicles are now punishable. It defined gender-based sexual harassment and expanded the scope of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act or Republic Act No. 7877.
The Safe Spaces Act was signed and approved into law on April 17, 2019. Its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) were approved on October 28, 2019. The Researchers focused on the awareness of the general community regarding the Safe Spaces Act and its implementation.
According to the data gathered, sixty-five (65) of one-hundred and two (102) respondents experienced GBSH in the form of unwelcome, unreasonable and offensive physical, psychological and emotional threats, unwanted sexual or sexist remarks and comments online or offline including invasion of privacy. This shows how rampant and common GBSH is in the Province of Negros Occidental. Of all the respondents, less than 25 percent rated themselves as very knowledgeable and informed of where a formal complaint against GBSH may be filed. An astounding number composed of seventy-seven (77) respondents have no or have minimal knowledge on where to file a formal complaint. This lack of awareness regarding it and where to file a complaint should such incident happen to someone has been a constant theme that the researchers faced, whilst, conducting this study. In an interview with a representative from the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), when asked regarding office experience in handling GBSH which was not addressed by the Safe Spaces Act, answered that R.A. No. 7610 (Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination) and R.A. No. 9262 (Anti-Violence Against Women and Children), the laws that are usually used in addressing cases faced by their Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC), are still effective at the moment. He found it hard to determine momentarily what instances have not been addressed by the Safe Spaces Act because it is still a new law. However, he expects to see results in the next two (2) to three (3) years’ time.
During the interview conducted by the researchers with a representative from the Provincial GAD Focal Point System, she spoke in the same tenor as that of the interviewee from the Bacolod City Police Office, as she recognized the lack of awareness on the law and stated that it is still too early to pinpoint the existence of any gaps in its implementation. During the Women’s Month, they conducted Gender and Development (GAD) Webinars through Facebook Live and YouTube in the hope that awareness may be sowed by the attendees and would trigger action responses across the border from ordinary people to the employees and officials of the LGUs.
The respondent from the Department of Education of Negros Occidental also noted that proper information-dissemination is a key tool in ensuring that every Filipino, most especially the masses, have access to the right information regarding GBSH, specifically when and how to report the complaints. Moreover, efforts have been made to incorporate GAD concepts in their staff trainings and continuing professional education lessons. During her two (2) year tenure in her current position in DepEd-Negros Occidental, she has only encountered one (1) sexual harassment-related case. She is happy that there are not many complaints regarding sexual harassment because the existence of a complaint is an indicator that something wrong is going on in the field. She recognizes that this instance can be interpreted in two ways: (1) it could be that there indeed was a harassment case or (2) that there actually were several harassment cases, but the victims were not aware of their rights and/or did not have the courage to defend their rights through the raising of a complaint. Furthermore, she stressed that this is the reason why education must continue and must be cascaded down to the barangay level and the communities in general.
In the survey conducted by the researchers, there were several barriers identified that hindered the reporting of GBSH. Majority, representing 29.93 percent of the total responses are attributable to the non-recognition of the seriousness of their experience of gender-based sexual harassment. About 27.01 percent of the responses considered embarrassment, shame and emotional difficulty as a barrier to reporting while another 18.98 percent added that they did not know where to go or whom to report their bad experiences. Other responses included fear of negative consequences, fear of violation of confidentiality, feeling of helplessness, or nothing can be done and not wanting the offender to get into trouble.
The barriers put forth by the respondents in the study can be classified based on the form of oppression it takes on; it can be internalized, interpersonal, cultural or institutional. Internalized oppression happens when oppressed people internalize the ideology of inferiority. They experience disrespect interpersonally from members of the dominant group and eventually come to internalize negative messages about themselves. The respondents averring that they are helpless and that they do not want the offender to get into trouble may be caused by internalized oppression. On the other hand, interpersonal oppression is the idea that one group is better than the other, hence, they acquire the right to control the other. Cultural oppression is said to be the result of internalized privilege where people accept the belief in the inherent inferiority of the oppressed group as well as the inherent superiority or normalcy of the acts of the privileged group. Majority of the respondents who did not consider their experiences with GBSH as “not serious”, is the epitome of normalcy and the perceived justification of what should have been an intolerable act, more so now that a law addressing GBSH has been enacted. Lastly, institutional oppression caters to the idea that dominant groups and oppressed groups are present in the society because it is already embedded in the institutions of the society, be it in laws, the legal system, the police practice, in education, and in the hiring policies, among others.
As for respondents who are not aware of the places where they can report GBSH, there are ten (10) police stations within the vicinity of the City of Bacolod with Women and Children Protection Centers (WCPC) or Desks that can help assist them in the filing of complaint/s against a harasser or they may opt to file directly with the WCPC-BCPO headquarters as per an interview with the BCPO. All PNP stations have a WCPC desk which are readily available for victims of GBSH. According to the Rule XI, Section 41 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Safe Spaces Act, the PNP, Women and Children Protection Centers/Desks shall act on and attend to all complaints covered under the law. They shall coordinate with Anti-sexual Harassment (ASH) enforcers or officers on the streets, security guards in private establishments open to the public and ASH officers in the government and private offices of schools in the enforcement of the provisions of the law.
The determination of the barriers to non-reporting of GBSH is necessary to combat GBSH. Hence, duties are imposed to secure the full implementation of the Safe Spaces Act. The researchers conducted a survey to gauge the current status of the ongoing localization of the Safe Spaces Act in Negros Occidental. With the issuance of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) Joint Memorandum No. 2020-001 dated December 7, 2020, guidelines on the localization of the Safe Spaces Act and its implementing rules and regulations particularly GBSH in streets and public spaces are provided.
Considering that the survey conducted by the researchers were done prior to the issuance by the DILG and the PWC of Joint Memorandum No. 2020-01 which provided guidelines to the localization of the Safe Spaces (SSA) Act, responses from the LGU inevitably displayed the low awareness on the existence of the SSA. In fact, out of twenty-three (23) respondents, only six (6) are aware of such law. Of those who were aware of the law, only 30.43 percent had it rolled out in their locality, namely, Ilog, Calatrava and Manapla.
The LGU’s role as expressly stipulated in the Safe Spaces Act is to: (1) inspect LGUs if they have disseminated or posted in conspicuous places a copy of the Act and the corresponding ordinance; (2) conduct and disseminate surveys and studies on best practices of LGUs in implementing the Act; and (3) provide capacity-building and training activities to build the capability of local government officials to implement the Act in coordination with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the Local Government Academy (LGA) and the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP). Unfortunately, according to the survey conducted, the respondents were only aware of one (1) of the three roles as enumerated above. Twelve (12) responses representing 92.31 percent of the total population said that they are aware that it is the DILG’s responsibility to inspect if the LGU has enacted an ordinance localizing the law and disseminating and/or posting both the national law and ordinance in conspicuous places in the locality. In addition, one (1) respondent is aware that DILG also has a role in providing technical assistance in the provision of capacity building and training activities which will ensure the implementation of the Act.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) plays a key role in the implementation of the Safe Spaces Act across the country. As surveyed, thirteen (13) respondents out of twenty-three (23) are aware of the role their department plays in ensuring the full implementation of the Safe Spaces Act. With the promulgation of the Joint Memorandum Circular of the DILG and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the LGU’s level of awareness is expected to be broadened and enriched.
With the LGUs due to prepare their annual GAD Plan and Budget for the next budget year, DILG is expected to strengthen the incorporation of the SSA locally in partnership with the provincial government through the Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator and the GAD Focal Point System.
The Safe Spaces Act effected necessary changes expected to break cultural norms and behaviors brought about by deep-seated institutionalized forms of oppression. Hence, raising awareness to the SSA and making sure that they are fully implemented are vital in addressing gender-based sexual harassment (GBSH). Legal policies are looked upon as catalysts of action, not inaction. Also, information-dissemination is an important vehicle in addressing GBSH, but it is not the only solution. Issues relative to these can only be fully addressed through the proper and full implementation of the law. Thus, various implementing agencies must work hand in hand to make sure that its IRR is properly localized, and the public be duly advised. It is only then that our policymakers will be able to pinpoint the possible gaps of the law and craft the necessary supplemental laws or make amendments accordingly.
The following recommendations were reached by the researchers after collating, analyzing and interpreting the data from the study:
For the Constituents. Through this study, the constituents in general will be able to educate themselves regarding gender-based sexual harassment (GBSH); the protection and remedies available to them through the provisions of the Safe Spaces Act; and, most specifically, familiarize themselves with the process of filing complaints relative to GBSH. As mentioned in this study and other related literature, GBSH is caused by deep-rooted beliefs that have been embedded in the Philippine culture and society. It is important that they remain inquisitive towards understanding issues such as gender-based sexual harassment as they may have experienced such but were unable to recognize it due to lack of awareness, more so, such acts are now punishable by law. This knowledge will not only be beneficial in protecting themselves but also in protecting their friends, family, and other people in the community.
For the Local Government Units (LGUs).Data gathered in this study prove that there is still a lack of awareness concerning the Safe Spaces Act, the role of LGU’s in implementing such and incorporating the rules and regulations provided in the GAD Plan and Budget. With the issuance of the Joint Memorandum Circular of the DILG and the PCW last December 2020, it is expected that the provisions of the Safe Spaces Act will be rolled out accordingly. With the Safe Spaces Act introducing the concept of gender-based sexual harassment and setting forth policies to address it, LGU’s must make sure that the provisions of the law and its corresponding implementing rules and regulations (IRR) is amply localized to fit to the needs of the community in terms of assistance and support that they provide.
For the National and Local Legislators. The Safe Spaces Act expanded the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law of 1995 in multiple facets, hence, the possibility of gaps in the law in lieu of its novelty. National and local legislators must coordinate with the implementing agencies to determine these possible gaps and barriers that they may experience so that they may be able to address them accordingly. Local legislators, as forerunners in localizing the law, must create ordinances that will guide its constituents in seeking redress for any violation of such law. If possible, they should involve the local community to engage in talks or forums so as to craft ordinances that effectively addresses and caters to real experiences of their constituents and the community as a whole, thereby, bringing the law closer to the people.
For the Employers and Heads of Public and Private Offices and Institutions. Under the Safe Spaces Act, employers and heads of office of private institutions including those of educational and training institutions are mandated by law to prevent, deter or punish, as the case may be, acts of GBSH. To this, they must be fully compliant. For purpose of reference, the duties of employers are enumerated in Rule 6, Section 19 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Safe Spaces Act, the duties of heads of office of private institutions in Rule 3, Section 6 of the same and the duties of school heads and heads of training institutions in Rule 7, Section 27 of the same. Corresponding liabilities are also provided for in case of non-implementation of their duties and failure to act on a reported case/s of GBSH. Under Rule 8, Section 32 of the IRR of the SSA, employers from the public and private sector, heads of the educational and training institutions shall develop a Code of Conduct in consultation with various stakeholders as enumerated in the said provision.
For Future Researchers. This study was conducted by the researchers to start the conversation and increase the awareness regarding the Safe Spaces Act and gender-based sexual harassment (GBSH). This law is still new. More research must be done to pinpoint the factors that cause GBSH acts to plague Philippine society and there may be other barriers to its non-reporting which are yet to be discovered. As previously discussed, GBSH is a product of oppression, of the idea that one group is superior to the other. Only time will tell whether internalized beliefs, attitudes and behaviors contributing to GBSH may be undone through the promulgation of this law as it is still in its early stages towards full implementation. Before then, researchers must continuously seek to raise awareness on GBSH and work closely with concerned sectors towards strengthening the Safe Spaces Act such as the conduct of research such as this.
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This research paper/thesis has been a product of so many sleepless nights, anxious, and restless days. Despite the pressures, demands and confusion, the researchers were able to successfully finish their most treasured work.
The researchers would like to sincerely extend their wholehearted gratitude to the people who in one way or another gave their support, assistance and guidance, enabling them to realize this paper. This would not have been made possible without their instructor, respondents, parents, siblings, relatives, friends, classmates and significant others. It is but right to give thanks to significant contributors and supporters, thus their sincerest and profound gratitude to:
Atty. Jocelle B. Sigue, their instructor in Law 105 (Legal Research and Thesis Writing), for her continued guidance in helping them shape and complete this paper, for her support, feedback and patience. The researchers could not have done and made it this far without her.
The Respondents from the Bacolod City Police Office, the Department of Education, the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, the different LGUs in the province and the random study participants, thank you for the pleasant accommodation and taking time to answer all the researchers’ queries. Without each of their cooperation and honest responses, this paper would not have materialized. The researchers are grateful for the opportunity and time each and every one has set aside to assist them in crafting this work.
Hurricane and Dina Remoto and Jeremias and Susetta Villalobos, their parents, who have all the way supported them emotionally, physically, and financially. Thank you for believing and trusting in them. Their faith in them gave them the confidence and perseverance to achieve their goals.
Their siblings, nephews cousins, friends, and significant others, thank you for never leaving their side and believing in them even. Thank you for challenging them to do their best. Their presence, support, encouragement and belief allowed them to endure the stress each of them experienced and it made finishing this paper rewarding and worthwhile.
USLS Law School Classmates and Batchmates, for their friendship, reassurance and support. This law school journey will never be meaningful without all the shared experiences and the good times spent together.
The Almighty Father, for giving them the physical, mental and emotional strength to finish this study. He is the source of every bit of wisdom that they possessed.
Ana Katrina Bianca W. Remoto
Garcela A. Villalobos
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Asexual. An individual who feels little to no sexual attraction but may be attracted romantically to others, an umbrella term for individuals within the asexual spectrum.
Bisexual. An individual who is sexually attracted and/or romantically attracted to one’s own gender as well as other genders.
Bullying. Unwanted and aggressive behavior involving a real or perceived power imbalance.
Catcalling. Unwanted remarks directed towards a person, can be done in the form of wolf-whistling and misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic, or sexist slurs.
Common Carriers. Persons, corporations, firms, or associations engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both for compensation.
Cyberstalking. Stalking through a form of electronic medium in which online communication takes place.
Demisexual. An individual who only experiences sexual attraction after an emotional connection is formed.
Employee. A person who in exchange for remuneration agrees to perform specified services for another person, who exercises fundamental control over work regardless of the terms or duration of agreement.
Employer (Public Sector). Head of government agencies, divisions, subdivisions, or instrumentalities including government-owned and controlled corporations with or without an original charter, or state universities or colleges with a regional charter which exercises control over an employee.
Employer (Private Sector). A person who exercises control over an employee, for the purpose of the Safe Spaces Act, the status or conditions of the latter’s employment or engagement shall be disregarded.
Gender-based online sexual harassment. Online conduct targeted at a particular person that causes or likely to cause mental, emotional or psychological distress, fear of personal safety, including, unwanted sexual remarks or comments, threats, uploading or sharing one’s photos without consent, audio and video recordings, cyberstalking and online identity theft.
GAD Plan and Budget. Document required as attachment to the LGU’s appropriations ordinance which will authorize the spending of local funds as mandated by law.
Gender-based Harassment. Any act that reinforces traditional heterosexual norms, generally not motivated by sexual interest or intent but rather based on hostility and is often an attempt to make the target feel unwelcome in the environment.
Gender. Attitudes, feelings, behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex; behavior that is compatible with cultural expectations is referred to as gender‐normative; behaviors that are viewed as incompatible with these expectations constitute gender non‐ conformity.
Gender Expression. External manifestations of gender expressed through one’s name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice or body characteristics.
Gender Identity. Internal sense of gender.
Hegemonic Experiences. The experience of having a dominant group assert control over another group or individual.
Harasser. Perpetrator of harassment.
Heteronormative Gender Roles. Conformity of a person’s behavior to the cultural expectations to gender.
Heterosexual. An individual attracted to the opposite sex.
Homosexual. An individual attracted to the same sex; outdated clinical term considered offensive and derogatory as it is linked to the clinical history of treating attraction to the same sex as a disorder or disease.
Institution. Standardized patterns of social behavior (e.g family, education, religion, economy and work, government etc.).
Internalized Oppression. A form of oppression which happens when oppressed people internalize the ideology of inferiority, experience disrespect interpersonally from members of the dominant group and eventually come to internalize the negative messages about themselves.
Internalized Privilege. Acceptance of the belief in the inherent inferiority of the oppressed group, likewise, the inherent superiority of the dominant group; Results to the sense of entitlement of the dominant group.
Interpersonal Oppression. A form of oppression supporting the idea that a particular group is better than the other, hence, that group earns the privilege of control over the other group. This gets structured in institutions, thereby, giving permission to the individual members of the dominant group to disrespect the oppressed group.
Local Government Unit. Acronym, LGU; oversees local governance in the Philippines; responsible for providing direct and basic services to people and ensuring peace and order in communities.
LGBTQ+. An encompassing term embracing individuals situated in different parts of the spectrum as per their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression among others, a commonly used acronym which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer and other non-heterosexual orientation, Q may also be referred to as ‘Questioning’ or those who are still questioning their sexuality.
Male. An individual typically capable of producing the male gamete or sperm.
Negrense. People who reside in Negros Island.
Programs, Projects, and Activities. LGU’s means of planning implementation to meet a certain goal such as the full implementation of a law like the Safe Spaces Act.
Queer. An umbrella term that individuals may use to describe a sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression that does not conform to dominant societal norms.
Sex Assignment At Birth. A person’s biological status, categorized as male, female, or intersex.
Sexual Harassment. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, non-verbal or physical.
Sexual Orientation. Romantic and sexual attraction towards other sexes or gender
Social Media Platforms. Websites or applications that allow communication among various people, find other people, share the same interests, among others (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).