In its continuing celebration of the National Women’s Month this March, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will be conducting a nationwide virtual forum for its personnel across the country on the Safe Spaces Act or Republic Act 11313 on March 26.
The Safe Spaces Act of 2019 or the Bawal Bastos Act is a landmark legislation that aims to protect all individuals from sexual harassment in physical or online spaces. The law penalizes catcalling, stalking, wolf-whistling, misogynistic and unwanted remarks directed to a person as well as and sexual advances and other forms of sexual harassment in public places, workplaces, schools and online spaces. It covers non-consensual communication and repeated visual or physical proximity that will likely cause a person to fear for one’s own safety or the safety of others or to suffer emotional distress. It also pushes for safer cyber spaces. Likewise, it is intended to expand the scope of the Republic Act No. 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995.
Atty. Twyla Rubin from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will discuss the law and how it should be implemented. On the other hand, Ms. Abegail Mesa-Raymundo, Founder of Rescue Kabataan Philippines, will tackle sexual harassment in the community in the context of a survivor’s experience.
The forum will enable DSWD employees to gain enough information on the salients points of the law, which they can cascade to program beneficiaries in their respective areas.
DSWD believes that creating safe spaces at home and in the community is also crucial in controlling the spread of the virus, while all are still advised to stay home and go out only for essential reasons.
The DSWD urges all Filipinos to ensure that communities and homes create a safe space for women, especially at this particular period when the pandemic calls for families to stay at home.
This year’s celebration of Women’s Month, with the theme, “We make change work for women,” with a focus on the campaign “Juana laban sa pandemya: Kaya!” is timely as it highlights the contributions of women in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. ###