Coinciding with the international celebration of Women's Month, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday urged the voting public to choose candidates who would not perpetuate sexist and discriminatory behavior, as advocates and gender rights groups press President Rodrigo Duterte to sign the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act into law.
In a "Bawal Bastos" press conference in Quezon City organized by the Institute for Politics and Governance (IPG), Akbayan-Women and the Damayan ng Maralitang Pilipinong Api (DAMPA), Hontiveros said that the law, which penalizes gender-based street harassment, can be an effective barometer for choosing candidates in the upcoming mid-term elections.
"If we want our schools, parks, homes and communities to be safe from gender-based violence and harm, then the best leaders are those who do not use violence to wield power over others," Hontiveros said
"If we want our communities to be places of peace, then our leaders should be those who build and encourage peace themselves and will not shy away from holding those who harass and victimize others to account," Hontiveros said.
The Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act penalizes all forms of street harassment such as cat-calling, wolf whistling, and persistent requests for another person's contact information without consent. Quezon City and Manila have successfully passed and implemented their own local ordinances against street harassment, with similar efforts being undertaken by IPG in Antipolo.
The bicameral version of the Safe Streets and Public Places Act was earlier approved in February. The bill is now pending with Malacanang, as the proposed bill needs the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte before it becomes a law.
Hontiveros is the principal sponsor and author of the measure in the Senate. She is also the Chair of the Senate Committee on Women.