By Marjaleen Ramos
Nearly every Filipino woman has experienced street harassment – from being stared at, to whistling, to cat-calling and to touching– and now the government has finally taken a step as the city council of Manila passed an ordinance penalizing catcalling in the city.
Authored by Manila District 4 Councilor Krystle Bacani, Ordinance No. 7857 or “An Ordinance Penalizing Catcalling and Other Forms of Public Sexual Harassment,” — where all street harassers are sought to be penalized — was passed. “This will penalize all forms of sexual harassment in public spaces such as catcalling, wolf-whistling, leering, groping, and many others the author said.”
In 2016, Quezon City passed the first ordinance to penalize the street-level harassment of women.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a well-known advocate of women’s right, lauded the passage of the anti-catcalling ordinance in Manila and shared her excitement.
“The passage of this landmark measure is a big victory for women and safe spaced advocates. It is historic and groundbreaking. An anti-catcalling ordinance in the country’s capital is a big boost to the campaign to protect its women from daily street harassment and a clear policy shift on the part of our local government. This will certainly serve as an inspiration as we push for the passage of a similar policy on the national level,” Hontiveros said.
Street harassment in public spaces has become a normal thing that women only sweep under the rug just so they won’t be accused of “overreacting” and getting blamed of “what they’re wearing and how they behave”.
The anti-catcalling ordinance is a big step to help reclaim the cities’ streets to make them safe spaces for women, and this, hopefully, will not stop in Quezon City and Manila.