Know your rights featuring the Safe Spaces Act of 2019 or the “Bawal Bastos Law” also known as “An Act Defining Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in Streets, Public Places, Online, Workplaces, and Educational or Training Institutions, Providing Protective Measures and Prescribing Penalties Thereof”.
The Safe Spaces Act, or popularly known as the “Bawal Bastos Bill” was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last April 2019, and became effective after completion of its Implementing Rules and Regulation and publication on March 2020.
In this Article, we will discuss the features of the novel law, the possible victims and offenders, the prohibited acts and how they are committed, the penalties, and what should we do to be compliant with the said Safe Spaces Act.
The basic human rights are well enshrined in our Philippine Constitution. These rights include dignity, respect, equality and safety for all, regardless of status, race, social standing and religious beliefs, among others.
The Safe Spaces Act will give more protection to a person’s privacy and safety regardless of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression or SOGIE, moving forward from our traditional definition of Sexual Harassment.
What are the prohibited acts under the Safe Spaces Act or R. A. 11313?
The prohibited acts mentioned above are punishable by:
1st Offense – a fine of PHP1000 and 12HRS Community Service Gender Sensitivity Seminar;
2nd Offense - 6-10days Imprisonment or PHP 3,000 fine;
3rd Offense - 11-30 days Imprisonment and PHP10,000 fine.
The actions of making offensive body gestures at someone, and exposing private parts for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator with the effect of demeaning, harassing, threatening or intimidating the offended party including flashing of private parts, public masturbation, groping, and similar lewd sexual actions are punishable by:
1st Offense – A fine of PHP 10,000 and 12hrs Community Service and Gender Sensitivity Seminar;
2nd Offense - 11-30 days Imprisonment or PHP 15,000 fine;
3rd Offense - 1 month – 6 months imprisonment and PHP 20,000 fine.
Stalking, touching when accompanied by pinching or brushing against the body of the offended person; or any touching, pinching, or brushing against the genitalia, face, arms, anus, groin, breasts, inner thighs, face, buttocks or any part of the victim's body are punishable by:
1st Offense - 11-30 days Imprisonment or a fine of PHP 30,000 and Gender Sensitivity Seminar;
2nd Offense - 1 month - 6 months Imprisonment or a fine of PHP 50,000;
3rd Offense - 1 month - 6 months imprisonment or a fine of PHP 100,000.
Gender-based Online Sexual Harassment is punishable by 2yrs, 4mos, 1 day to 4yrs and 2 months Imprisonment and a fine of PHP 100,000 – PHP 500,000 or both, at the discretion of the Court.
If the act is committed in a PUV, Offended party is a minor, senior, PWD, breastfeeding mother nursing her child, mental problem tending to impair consent, perpetrator is a member of the uniformed service and he/she was in uniform; and premises of government agency performing frontline services, the penalty is 4 years 2 months and 1 day to 6 years imprisonment.
If the perpetrator is a corporation or juridical person, the liability will fall on its officers and there will be automatic revocation of their franchise or license to operate.
In case of print and broadcast media, editors, reporters or broadcasters, and station managers will be liable.
Alien offenders who committed gender based online harassment will be deported after serving the sentence and payment of fines.
Privately owned places open to the public like restaurants, bars, malls, cinemas, among others are required to adopt a policy of zero tolerance in their establishments against GBSH; implement measures to prevent its occurrence; and the establishment of protocols to be followed should GBSH occur in their establishment.
Sexual Harassment in Educational or Training institution and Workplaces have been expanded imposing much stricter duties, liabilities and policies for the prevention and implementation of the law.
It shall also be noted that, the Safe Spaces Act had expanded its definition of “gender” in a much broader sense departing to the traditional definition of just “male or female”, thus:
The Safe Spaces Act further expanded the definition of sexual harassment in a work-related or employment environment, thus, it is not essential that the demand, request or requirement be made as a condition for continued employment or for promotion to a higher position as defined in the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995.
It is enough that the actions of the Respondent, regardless of rank or position in the company, create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment to the employee.
Do you think this is a good law? What are your thoughts about Gender Based Sexual Harassment? You can leave a comment below. Please follow us on Facebook.