I am sure you have heard of this new law that is more popularly known as the ‘Bawal Bastos’ or ‘Anti-Bastos’ law.
Republic Act No. 11313 or the “Safe Spaces Act” recognizes that both men and women must have equality, security and safety not only in private but on the streets, public spaces, online, workplaces and educational and training institutions.
I have prepared a list of questions and answers about the salient points of the law below:
Question: What is considered ‘bastos’ under the Bawal Bastos law?
Generally, all those acts, words, remarks directed towards another person tainted with SEXUAL undertones/innuendos.
Question: What are the different kinds of acts punishable under the Bawal Bastos law?
(1) Gender-Based Streets and Public Spaces Sexual Harrassment
(2) Gender-Based Online Sexual Harrassment
(3) Qualified Gender-Based Streets, Public Spaces and Online Sexual Harrassment
(4) Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
(5) Gender-Based Sexual Harassment in Educational and Training Institutions
Question: Who are covered under the Bawal Bastos law?
BOTH men and women are protected by this law. This law has a more comprehensive coverage than the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law. Any act (sexual in nature) that has the tendency to offend the feelings of the recipient can be held punishable under this law.
Question: What are some of the specific acts punishable under the Bawal Bastos law?
(a) Catcalling – wolf-whistling (sipol), unwanted remarks with sexual innuendos
(b) Name calling – derogatory remarks that have the tendency to offend the other person (“bakla”, “tomboy”, “pangit”, “pokpok”, etc.)
(c) Staring/Gazing at others – if the other person feels very uncomfortable and feels sexually harassed as a result
(d) Unwanted invitations / persistent unwanted invitations – with sexual innuendos
(e) Requesting for the name/contact number/address or other personal details of the recipient – with sexual innuendos
(f) Uploading or sharing pictures of another person in social media without the latter’s consent
(g) Taking a picture of a fellow passenger inside a jeepney, without the latter’s consent
(h) Masturbating or exposing private parts inside a jeepney
(i) Brushing of the shoulders or arms with another inside the MRT, and the other person feels harrassed/offended as a result
(j) Persistent telling of sexual jokes
(k) Giving any statement that has made an invasion on a person’s personal space or threatens the person’s sense of personal safety
Question: If I had no intention whatsoever to offend the other person when I gave the “remark” or did the specific “act”, can I raise this as a defense?
The law does not take into consideration the intention of the person doing the act. Intent of said person is IRRELEVANT. What the law considers is the feeling/reaction of the receiver of the said remark/act. Good faith is not a defense.
Question: What covers “public spaces”?
(a) Streets and alleys
(b) public parks
(h) transportation terminals
(i) public markets
(j) spaces used as evacuation centers
(k) government offices
(l) public utility vehicles
(m) private vehicles covered by app-based transport network services (like Grab)
Question: What are the responsibilities of these establishments under the Bawal Bastos law?
These establishments are obliged to provide assistance to victims of gender-based sexual harassment by :
(1) coordinating with local police authorities immediately after the incident is reported;
(2) making CCTV footage available when ordered by the court; and
(3) providing a safe gender-sensitive environment to encourage victims to report gender-based sexual harassment at the first instance.
(4) All restaurants, bars, cinemas and other places of recreation shall:
(i) instill in their business establishments clearly-visible warning signs against gender-based public spaces sexual harassment, including anti-sexual harassment hotline number in bold letters; and
(ii) designate at least one (1) anti-sexual harassment officer to receive gender-based sexual harassment complaints.
Question: If the perpetrator is the driver of a public utility vehicle, the employer, owner, operator will be held solidarily liable with the driver-perpetrator. Why?
The law presumes that there is negligence on the part of the employer, owner or operator of the vehicle with respect to the selection and supervision of his/her employees because the driver hired was NOT of good reputation.
Question: What are the acts that may be considered gender-based ONLINE sexual harassment?
(1) Those acts that use information and communications technology in terrorizing and intimidating victims through physical, psychological, and emotional threats;
(2) unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist remarks and comments online whether publicly or through direct and private messages;
(3) invasion of victim’s privacy through cyberstalking and incessant messaging;
(4) uploading and sharing without the consent of the victim, any form of media that contains photo, voice, or video with sexual content;
(5) any unauthorized recording and sharing of any of the victim’s photos, videos, or any information online;
(6) impersonating identities of victims online;
(7) posting lies about victims to harm their reputation;
(8) filing false abuse reports to online platforms to silence victims.
Question: What is the difference between Anti-Sexual Harrassment Law and Bawal Bastos Law?
Anti-Sexual Harassment Law has the primary element of “moral ascendancy”. If there are sexual favors, sexual harassment, sexual innuendos committed by a person with moral ascendancy over the other, (ex. between a boss and a subordinate, between a teacher and a student, between an employer “amo” and a yaya), the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law will apply.
For the Bawal-Bastos law, the element of “moral ascendancy” is not considered. For example, if the subordinate is the one who sexually harasses his/her boss, the subordinate can be held liable under the Bawal-Bastos law.
Question: What are the penalties for violation of the Bawal Bastos law?
Depending on the frequency and nature of the offense, the following are the penalties thay may be imposed against the perpetrator under this law:
(i) Fine ranging from One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) up to Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00)
(ii) Community Service of twelve (12) hours inclusive of attendance to a Gender Sensitivity Seminar to be conducted by PNP in coordination with LGU and PCW.
(iii) Attendance in a Gender Sensitivity Seminar to be conducted by PNP in coordination with LGU and PCW.
(iv) Imprisonment of arresto menor (6 to 10 days) up to prision correccional (6 months, 1 day, to 6 years)
(v) if the perpetrator is a juridical person, automatic revocation of license or franchise
(vi) if the perpetrator is an alien, he/she shall be subject to deportation proceedings after serving sentence and payment of fines
Question: When is the gender-based streets, public spaces and online sexual harassment considered as QUALIFIED?
(a) If the act takes place in a common carrier or PUV, including but not limited to jeepneys, taxis, tricycles, or app-based TNVS, where the perpetrator is the driver of the vehicle and the offended party is a passenger;
(b) If the offended party is a minor, a senior citizen, or a person with disability, or a breastfeeding mother nursing her child;
(c) If the offended party is diagnosed with a mental problem tending to impair consent;
(d) If the perpetrator is a member of the uniformed services, such as the PNP and the AFP and the act was perpetrated while the perpetrator was in uniform; and
(e) If the act takes place in the premises of a government agency offering frontline services to the public and the perpetrator is a government employee.
Question: What will happen if the offense is considered QUALIFIED?
The penalty next higher in degree will be applied.
Question: What are the acts considered as gender-based sexual harassment in the workplace?
(a) An act or series of acts involving any unwelcome sexual advances, requests or demand for sexual favors or any act of sexual nature, whether done verbally, physically, or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems, that has or could have a detrimental effect on the conditions of an individual’s employment or education, job performance or opportunities;
(b) A conduct of sexual nature and other conduct-based on sex affecting the dignity of a person, which is unwelcome, unreasonable, and offensive to the recipient, whether done verbally, physically or through the use of technology such as text messaging or electronic mail or through any other forms of information and communication systems;
(c) A conduct that is unwelcome and pervasive and creates an intimidating, hostile or humiliating environment for the recipient; Provided, that the crime of gender-based sexual harassment may also be committed between peers and those committed to a superior by a subordinate, or to a teacher by a student, or to a trainer by a trainee.
Question: What happens if the perpetrator is a minor student?
Minor students who are found to have committed acts of gender-based sexual harassment in educational and training institutions shall only be held liable for administrative sanctions by the school as stated in their school handbook.
The educational institution may reserve the right to strip the diploma from the perpetrator or issue an expulsion order.
Question: What are the exempted acts under the Bawal Bastos law?
These acts shall NOT be penalized:
(1) Acts that are legitimate expressions of indigenous culture and tradition;
(2) Breastfeeding in public.
As you can see, any act, demeanor, or remark that has the tendency to offend, harass or degrade a person may be punishable under the Bawal-Bastos law.
This serves as a warning to all. Let us observe common courtesy at all times. Keep in mind that since we now have this law in place, your act, however innocent it may be to you, can already be offensive to others. Be careful what you say or do from now on.
Dura lex, sed lex.
The law may be harsh, but IT IS the law.
I hope you find this post helpful. You may check out my other LEGAL posts below: