In Davao City, catcalling or “pagsipol” is illegal

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte drew flak this week after giving a reporter a wolf-whistle during his press conference on Tuesday in Davao City.

Curiously, his hometown has taken the lead in working against catcalling in public, a punishable offense under “The Women Development Code of Davao City” or City Ordinance No. 5004.

Duterte created the working group to draft the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Code in 1997. The 44-page IRR was approved by his successor Benjamin de Guzman the following year.

Under the Code, sexual harassment is defined as “a form of misconduct involving an act or a series of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature, made directly, indirectly or impliedly.”

Among the forms of sexual harassment listed under Section 8 of the Code is “making offensive hand or body gestures at someone.”

The law also defines as harassment “cursing, whistling or calling a woman in public with words having dirty connotations or implications which tend to ridicule, humiliate or embarrass the woman such as puta, boring, peste, etc.”

Under Republic Act 9262 or the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004,” sexual harassment is considered sexual violence.

The local government of Davao City pledges support for women survivors of sexual violence. The Women’s Code of the city mandates an immediate conduct of an investigation within 24 hours after the incident. The Code also provides for counseling and medical services for the offended party.

“Women victims-survivors of all forms of violence shall be registered in a community-based psychological program that shall assist the women in holistically re-building and empowering themselves,” the Code states.
“All investigations/hearing involving rape cases and other forms of violence against women conducted in the police stations, prosecutor’s office and the trial courts shall recognize, the survivor’s social support group as expressly allowed or requested by the offended party,” it adds.

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