All forms of sexual harassment in the employment, education or training environment are declared unlawful as stated in section 2 of the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 in the Philippines. It affirmed that each person ought to value the dignity of every individual, enhance the development of his/her human resources, guarantee full respect for human rights, and uphold the dignity of workers, employees, applicants for employment, students or those undergoing training, instruction or education.
Towards this end, to reiterate the issue, all forms of sexual harassment in the employment, education, and training environment are hereby declared unlawful. This is what we called the anti-sexual harassment found in the Republic Act No. 7877 in the Republic of the Philippines.
To animadvert upon the prevailing issue, Section 3 likewise defines sexual harassment as a request for a sexual favor, accepted or not, from an employer, employee, manager, teacher, instructor, professor, coach, trainer or other persons who have authority, influence or moral ascendancy over another. Sexual harassment is committed when such a favor is demanded in return for employment or promotion, or refusal to grant such a favor results in the impairment of employee’s rights, privileges or employment opportunities. Like for instance, the issues of gender inequality are identified perfectly as a major problem in the other country, most especially in the Middle East.
One particularly degrading aspect of this is sexual harassment of women on the streets. This issue came to the forefront in October 2006, when widespread and aggressive sexual harassment of women transpired/took place in downtown Cairo during the holiday. It said in the reports that a lot of newspapers examine the efforts of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights to organize and lead a successful anti-sexual harassment campaign. Data and other important documents come from the participant observations of the campaign for one year, beginning in November 2006 up to now. Findings showed that the organization was successful because it framed the movement broadly as a safety issue, used innovative protest tactics, and operated through routine political channels.
Here in the Philippines, any person who induces another to commit or who cooperates in the commission of sexual harassment is also held liable. The employer or the head of office has the duty to prevent and deter the commission of sexual harassment and to provide procedures for the investigation, resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment, notably through the creation of a Committee on Decorum and Investigation. This does not bar prosecution in proper courts. The liability of the employer, head of office, educational or training institution arises when, informed of acts of sexual harassment, no immediate action is taken.
There have been so many cases of sexual harassment in the public schools. Victims are not only students but also teachers. Some higher education officials are guilty of this. I had a friend who was pretty and sexy. When the superintendent saw her in one of the gatherings of teachers, he asked somebody to get the phone number of the teacher. My friend readily gave her number because it was the superintendent who asked for it. That was a weekend. A few days after that meeting, she received a call from the superintendent inviting her for dinner. She was told not to bring a chaperone. Sensing something fishy, she declined the invitation and gave out excuses. Many invitations followed thereafter and as usual she never accepted any of those. The superintendent, though, did not give up. He sought the help of the principal. The principal kept on nudging her to accept the invitation even once. But she was firm in her conviction.
The story did not end there. She was given a hard time. When she could no longer stomach the pressures imposed upon her, she told the principal that if he does not stop pressuring her, she will file the harassment complaint against him and his boss at the Ombudsman. He showed the principal a copy of this Republic Act. From then on, the principal and the superintendent stopped pestering her.
This RA 7877 is very helpful to employees, especially the rank and file. They are helpless if the head of office victimizes them. For fear of reprisal, some employees give in to the sexual demands of their bosses. These employees are ignorant of this Republic Act. That’s why it’s imperative that employees read the articles in the constitution to know their rights and privileges. They ought to know the laws. It’s a misconception that only lawyers or lawmakers should be well-versed of our constitution. Every citizen has the right to know. As they say, ignorance of the law excuses no one.