Press Release
July 8, 2018

In Manila, street-based sexual harassers' days are numbered

Different policymakers, women and safe spaces advocates today praised the City of Manila for passing a landmark ordinance that penalizes wolf-whistling, cat-calling, leering and other forms of public sexual harassment.

In a press conference in Manila, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, Manila District 4 Councilor Krystle Bacani, the United Nations for Women and the Institute for Politics and Governance (IPG) laud Manila's ordinance against street-based sexual harassers.

Manila Ordinance No. 7857, authored and sponsored by Bacani, was passed on third and final reading on June 28 by the Manila City Council.

"We are extremely happy with the passage of this measure. After years of lobbying, campaigning and raising awareness, the local government of Manila finally heeded the growing public clamor to make the city's streets and other public spaces safe for women. The message is clear: the country's capital will not tolerate street-based sexual harassment. Sexual harassers, your days are numbered," Bacani said.

The IPG congratulated Bacani for leading the fight in the passage of the measure. "We likewise thank all the councilors who close ranks with us, and to Mayor Joseph 'Erap' Estrada for giving his all-out support for the passage of the ordinance. This is a clear triumph of Manilenas and women in general, and a step in the right direction to urban renewal," said Santos, IPG Executive Director.

Santos said that Manila now joins Quezon City in penalizing street-level harassment of women. In 2016, it was reported that the QC local government passed an anti-catcalling ordinance imposing a fine and jail term for acts considered as sexual harassment of women in public spaces.

For her part, Hontiveros said that the ordinance could create a snowballing effect and compel other local governments to follow suit. "It could also trigger behavioral change and alter sexist language habits among our people. This will certainly serve as an inspiration as we push for the passage of a similar policy on the national level," she said.

Hontiveros, who is the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, is pushing for the passage of a Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act in the Senate. The bill aims to prohibit and penalize gender-based harassment in public spaces such as catcalling, wolf-whistling, cursing, leering, groping, persistent request for name and contact details. It also seeks to penalize the use of words tending to ridicule on the basis of actual or perceived sex, gender expression, or sexual orientation and identity, including sexist, homophobic and transphobic slurs.

The ordinance will penalize all forms of sexual harassment in public spaces such as catcalling, wolf-whistling, leering, groping and many others. It also outlines clear penalties for violations and violators and enhances the role of police authorities in apprehending harassers.

The IPG is part of the Safe Cities Metro Manila Programme of the United Nations Women. Together with other non-government organizations and women groups, the IPG has been in the forefront of convincing the local government of Manila to pass the measure.

News Latest News Feed