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Duterte outlaws misogynistic behavior, despite long history of public rape jokes

Duterte outlaws misogynistic behavior, despite long history of public rape jokes
Outspoken Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill penalizing public sexual harassment ranging from cat-calls and wolf-whistles, to persistent telling of sexual jokes – for which he himself is famous.

Duterte signed the so-called Safe Spaces Act in April but, for unknown reasons, the legislation wasn’t publicly released until Monday.

Among the offending acts for which perpetrators will now be liable are:

  • intrusive gazing
  • cursing,
  • misogynistic acts,
  • the use of sexual slurs,
  • persistent telling of lewd jokes both in public and online.

In addition, the law targets those who expose themselves in public or engage in “groping or any advances, whether verbal or physical, that is unwanted and has threatened one’s sense of personal space and physical safety.”

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Public spaces like bars, restaurants and cinemas will now be required to install clearly visible warning signs in addition to hotline contact information to report any offences. 

Senator Risa Hontiveros, the main author of the bill, called it a “massive victory” which allowed people to “reclaim our streets from sexual harassers and gender bigots.”

Under the new law, punishments for unseemly behavior range from small fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense. Foreign violators will be deported after paying their fine or serving their sentence.

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Duterte himself has been excoriated by women’s groups and political opponents throughout his presidency for a slew of crude jokes, often involving rape. 

The women’s rights political party, Gabriela, described him in a scathing assessment as “the single most brazen violator of the law’s intent with his staple macho-fascist remarks.”

It looks like many will be watching like hawks in case Duterte breaks any of the stringent new rules himself. However they’ll be wasting their time as a spokesman said on Tuesday that the new law “does not apply” to the president.

“When he cracks jokes, it is intended to make people laugh, never to offend,” Salvador Panelo said, adding that Duterte respects women and is never lewd.

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