In a surprising turn of events, the Safe Spaces Act, a.k.a the bill that seeks to penalize gender-based street harassment, has now been signed into a law. This means that anyone caught in the act of catcalling, wolf-whistling, or saying misogynistic or homophobic slurs in public will now be fined and required to attend a gender sensitivity seminar. Second and third-time offenders also get mandatory jail time. Oof.
Earlier this year, Senator Risa Hontiveros and Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin, principal authors of the Safe Spaces Act, spoke about the importance of the passing of the law, especially at a time when even government officials embolden a culture of misogyny.
There’s much talk about how the law was passed. Some said that the bill has lapsed into a law, meaning that after having passed the third reading in the senate, it didn’t get vetoed by the president, thus making it into a full-pledged law. (Yes, a bill can become a law even without the president’s signature.) But recent reports show that the President Duterte actually did approve the law just yesterday. Not gonna lie, this is a pretty bold move coming from someone who makes speeches laden with rape jokes, who makes sexist remarks an everyday thing, who also once wolf whistled at a media correspondent.
Still, the passing of this law is a big triumph for us all. We just hope that the law will actually be enforced in all places in the country — including Malacañang.