Senator Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel lauded Zonta Club of Cebu II for embarking on the advocacy campaign for the “Bawal Bastos” law and including it in its series of webinars in celebrating the 18 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.
Hontiveros in her message to the Zontians said that as the author of the Bawal Bastos Law, the message is very simple. “Bawal ang Bastos!”
She said that the law puts an end once and for all to the culture of violence in whatever form that is pervasive in all places in the Philippines. For so long we have been conditioned to be okay with men wolf-whistling through our long walk home.
“We’ve been conditioned to accept that rape jokes are simply some men’s brand of humor. We’ve been conditioned that to keep the peace, we must remain silent,” Hontiveros added.
She went on to declare that as women’s rights advocates, we will not be silent. The Bawal Bastos law does not want women to cower in fear. The law is here to support all women as they raise their voices against any kind of gender-based violence.
The law sends every single Filipino a simple message, Bawal ang Bastos wherever it takes place; in the streets, in educational institutions, in the workplace, or even online, “Bawal ang Bastos!” Hontiveros emphatically stated.
The landmark legislation wants to make all spaces people occupy safe for all, she added that when this law is implemented properly, this promises behavioral and cultural change in the country.
As the Bawal Bastos Law makes violators accountable, it also explicitly stipulates that wholistic support is given to victims-survivors. Workplaces and educational training institutions are mandated to craft policies and mechanisms to support those who may experience or report gender-based harassment or discrimination.
Hontiveros went on that the intricacies of the Bawal Bastos Law should be widely discussed more intensely and pervasively and she was grateful to the members of Zonta Club of Cebu II that they so it crucial enough to discuss and examine the law in an insightful and informative webinar entitled “Dissecting the Safe Spaces Act RA 11313 with Atty. Mylen Esquivel as resource speaker.
“During this pandemic, more people, particularly women are using online platforms and it also means that more people, particularly women are being harassed online. Studies made during the pandemic have also affirmed that women and children often bear the brunt of violence,” Hontiveros stated.
She said her office received waves of reports of all sorts of harassment, abuse from intimate photos of women being circulated on messaging apps to child exploitation materials mostly girls being passed around on social media groups.
Some “wins” in the gender-based advocacy campaign
Some “wins” are still seen despite how dire the situations may seem. Hontiveros cited the PNP’s campaign with its info materials telling women how to dress to avoid rape which received a lot of flak, which they changed its info materials into statements like “Ito ay dress, hindi yes!”
Another “win” is when the Senate recently passed the “Girls Not Bride” Act or Senate Bill 1373 which Hontiveros authored. The issue of child, early and forced marriages is one that is largely invisible to us here in Metro Manila, but it is a tragic reality for scores of young girls who are forced by economic circumstances and cultural expectations to shelve their own dreams. begin families they are not ready for, and raise children even when their own childhoods have not yet ended,” Senator Risa Hontiveros, sponsor of the bill, said. The House of Representatives has yet to pass its version and she hopes that it will do the same.
Hontiveros also mentioned the work of women advocates in the country as a “win” because she added that without groups such as the Zonta Club of Cebu II and other women-child rights advocates, no law is possible without the citizen and women’s participation.
In her concluding message, Hontiveros thanked the Zonta Club of Cebu II for “taking up the initiative and the responsibility to defend our rights, to protect our autonomy and to push for genuine gender equality.”