The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) lauds the Supreme Court (SC) En Banc Resolution suspending a law professor for five years from the practice of law and ten years from teaching in ANY law school for sexually harassing his female law students.
The 11-page decision which was promulgated on April 10, 2019 and released on July 8, 2019 also included a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely.
PCW Chairperson Rhodora M. Bucoy noted that the decision is a welcome development for all educational and training institutions as it will pave the way to free schools and universities from gender-based violence.
“This landmark case proves that no one is above the law. We commend the High Court for upholding the rule of law especially in a crime where victims are afraid to come out IN the open for fear of retaliation, and distrust in the justice system.
“It is but fitting that the SC upheld the honor of the legal profession by exposing the law professor’s abusive conduct, and rooting the said act from patriarchy and imbalance of power,” Bucoy added.
Speak out, fight for your rights
PCW Executive Director Emmeline L. Verzosa commended the law students who exposed the abuse and encouraged those who are experiencing sexual harassment to be courageous and stand for their rights.
“In an environment where influence and hostility are being used to silence dissent, getting justice for those who speak out sparks hope for victim-survivors of sexual abuse. Survey data says that there are 41% of women who continue to suffer in silence,” Verzosa noted.
Results of the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) show that around five percent of women experience sexual violence since age 15. Only 34% of women who experienced physical or sexual violence sought help to end it, while 25% told someone about it but did not seek help. The Philippine National Police (PNP), on the other hand, recorded 72 cases of sexual harassment from January to December 2018.
“Sexual harassment is a public crime. It is a form of gender-based violence often committed against women and girls, but could also happen to men and boys. The cycle of violence will never stop if we continue to tolerate such acts,” said Verzosa.
Safe Spaces Act
Meanwhile, Chairperson Bucoy expressed hope that the recent enactment of the Safe Spaces Act (Republic Act No. 11313) will strengthen the country’s legal framework against various forms of sexual harassment.
“We are expecting that the text will be published soon. PCW is designated under the law to lead the crafting of its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) within 90 days from its effectivity,” Bucoy said.
“This law expanded the scope of the law against sexual harassment which used to be limited to work and educational and training institutions. It includes peer-to-peer sexual harassment. It contains provisions that need to be tackled with stakeholders in order to properly guide its implementation,” she added.
The Safe Spaces Act defines and penalizes gender-based sexual harassment in streets, public spaces, online, workplaces, and educational and training institutions.