Image courtesy of the Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros and transport network giant Grab Philippines are exploring a possible partnership to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers while riding public transport systems in the country. Speaking before the Safer Everyday event organized by Grab Philippines on Monday, Hontiveros revealed that her office is working with the transport network giant to promote her advocacy under Senate Bill No. 1326 or the “Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act” that recently passed on the third and final reading at the Senate.

Hontiveros, Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, said the bill promotes safety and freedom from all forms of street harassment. She cited a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that showed 88 percent of women aged 18 to 24 years old experienced sexual harassment on the streets.

Image courtesy of the Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros

“Let me emphasize that this protection extends to both passengers and drivers, particularly women drivers. In our consultations with Grab we found out that there have been cases when drivers have also been the targets of abuse, and this measure is there to protect them, too. The basic principle is “no means no.” When a person isn’t comfortable with language or gestures or actions that make them feel harassed, harassers should be called out and punished appropriately,” she explained.

Hontiveros said that she is confident that working with Grab Philippines will raise awareness on her Safe Streets bill and is one step closer in achieving safety in public spaces throughout the country. She said that the company committed to deliver gender sensitivity training for the continued education of their drivers nationwide once the partnership between both parties is finalized.

Image courtesy of the Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros

The Senator noted that Grab’s participation to promote Safe Streets bill is a welcome development as advocates are pushing back against the growing culture of misogyny and sexism in the country. Her office is also hoping to collaborate with other public transportation systems to promote awareness on safety in public spaces. “With this partnership, we will reclaim the streets and other public spaces from sexual harassers and make them safe for all,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros’s bill seeks to impose penalties against unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a person in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation and identity.

Specific acts include but are not limited to unwanted cursing, wolf-whistling, catcalling, leering, sexist, persistent requests for someone’s name, number or destination after clear refusal, persistent telling of sexual jokes, use of sexual names, comments and demands, following, flashing, public masturbation, groping, and stalking.

Press release from the Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros Communications Team

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