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Isko bans humiliation of women

Isko Moreno
Mayor Isko Moreno shows the ordinance he signed into law protecting women in the city. With him are (from left) majority floorleader Atty. Joel Chua, Vice Mayor and Presiding Officer Honey Lacuna and author Councilor Krystle Bacani. Photo by JERRY S. TAN

THE next time you curse, humiliate, ridicule or simply whistle at a woman in public anywhere in Manila by calling her “pxxa”, “peste” or “pokpok,” think again.

Mayor Isko Moreno issued this warning after he signed into law Ordinance 8681, which prohibits and classifies such act as a form of sexual harassment, along with acts like repeatedly asking for dates despite verbal rejections, making offensive hand gestures or persistently telling green jokes to someone who finds it offensive or humiliating.

Known as the “Gender and Development Code of the City of Manila” or the “GAD Code” in short, the said ordinance was personally brought for signature to Moreno by Vice Mayor and Council Presiding Officer Honey Lacuna, majority floorleader Atty. Joel Chua and author Krystle Bacani.

Moreno stressed that the ordinance which provides protection to all aspects of rights of women, young and old, is part of Manila’s efforts to be the best gender-responsive local government unit in the country.

Before this, Moreno also signed into law an ordinance promoting the welfare and protection of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queers and intersex (LGBTQI) community members in the city.

“Women and other genders in the society shall be recognized as full and equal partners of men in development and nation-building and men shall share equally with all forms of productive and reproductive activities,” the mayor said.

In the said ordinance, the city government shall promote gender balance or equal proportion of qualified women and men for opportunity to ensure key positions at all of local government, whether elective or appointive.

Other than the definition provided by R.A. 7877, the following also constitute sexual harassment under the ordinance: taunting a person with constant talk about sex and sexual innuendoes; displaying offensive or lewd pictures and publication in a workplace; interrogating someone about sexual activities or private life; during interviews for employment, scholarship grant or any lawful activity applied for; touching, pinching or brushing up against someone’s body unnecessarily or deliberately; kissing or embracing someone against her will; requesting sexual favors in exchange for a good grade, obtaining a good job or promotion.; unnecessary acts during physical examinations; requiring women to wear suggestive or provocative attire during interviews such as job hiring promotion, admission; and any expression of gender bias against a person with the intention to embarrass, humiliate, stigmatize.

Chua said the ordinance likewise increased maternity leave benefits from 65 days under RA 11210 to 105 days and paternity leave benefits for fathers’ meaningful participation in the care of their newborn child for 14 days from the seven days mandated by law under R.A 8187. It also provides for a yearly 12-day menstrual/menopausal leave for women employees in private offices and commercial/industrial establishments located in the city, who have rendered at least one year continuous service, Chua added.

The ordinance also mandates the barangay GAD committee to organize elderly women within the barangay to advance their practical and strategic interests and needs.

Beauty contests which tend to commodify, abuse, humiliate and treat other persons especially women and homosexual as sex objects shall strictly be prohibited in schools, communities, barangays and the city government in its special celebrations.

The city and the barangay council are also mandated to ensure that at least one-third of its members is composed of women, in recognition of their considerable leadership and involvement in various development efforts and initiatives.