Tuesday, March 8, 2016

FREE FROM FEAR



TRUE STORY:


Rewind to 1991, I was in 3rd year college in UST.   I was on my way to my 6-9 class in UST. I was there, waiting for the LRT train to arrive in Monumento.  When a stranger came up to me, all smiles, asking me casually for my name.  I didn't respond.  I just stared at him.  I taught, he just mistook me for someone else.  I walked away.  But when he followed me, that was when fear started to creep in.  He was still smiling, was trying to start a conversation, and before I knew it, his hands was on my shoulders.  I freaked out!  I gave him my nastiest dagger look, and I was ready to punch him in the face if he still continues with his advances.  He understood my body language.  And I walked away from him, as fast as I could.  I was frustrated.... because without turning my gaze back at him, I knew he was still smiling.  And I had to admit, I was really shaken with fear.  And there was no police nearby.  I took the train.  And instead of going to class that night... I went straight to my best friend Annalie's dorm in Sampaloc to tell her of my ordeal.  I just had to talk to someone....


BACK TO THE PRESENT:


This story kept playing in my mind, last night, as I attended yesterday the kick-off activity for the National Women's month celebration in Quezon City, entitled -- "LIGHTING THE WAY FOR SAFE CITIES".   I am now a mom, with a 15 year old daughter... so street safety is indeed a MAJOR concern.  



From the program I learned that 61% of women in Metro Manila, teeners to 65 years old have experienced sexual harassment on the street.  To confront this reality,  UN WOMEN (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) launched a global flagship initiative to prevent sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls in public spaces, which now spans 24 cities including Quezon City.  The Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 is focused on sexual harassment in employment, education and training environments, and does not include harassment of women in public places, thus the need for stricter penalties for those who will commit harassment on public places. 


And what are some of these forms of harassments -- calling women names like "sexy", "baby";  winking with malice;  throwing a catcall;  casually asking women for their names or phone numbers;


Women, and young girls in particular must learn to face their fear and tell the authorities if someone throws them any of these malicious gestures.  Or learn to be vigilant.  If you are a witness to such harassment, report to authorities immediately.


The Quezon City council passed an amendment to the ordinance providing for a city gender and development code, increasing the fine for sexual harassment from P200 to P1000 to P5000.  For the first time, it specifies sexual harassment in public spaces, where before, the law applied only for employment, education and training environments.



QC POLICE WOMEN

KABABAIHAN NG BRGY. LAGRO INC  (KABARO INC)





MR. ALDRIN CUNA, QC CITY ADMINISTRATOR, 
WHOM I WORKED WITH IN QC GAWAD PARANGAL

BAYANG BARRIOS BELTING OUT EMPOWERED SONGS

GLAIZA DE CASTRO



COOKIE CHUA PERFORMING



RESIDENTS OF QC ENJOYING THE PROGRAM

 
The highlight for me of the entire program was the visual spectacle of releasing 1,000 lanterns to light up the night sky.  It symbolized the dedication and commitment of all participants, as well as QC local government in making the city a safer place for women. 
















                          HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY!!!!