Mow’s in Quezon City has been home for many musicians in the music scene today but on Tuesday, 12th of December, the underground gig venue served as a place of safety and solace for female musicians to speak about and discuss issues of safety in harassment.
The gathering of the artists in Mow’s marks the end of the 18-Day Campaign against Violence Against Women, female artists and musicians launched a campaign for the Safe Streets and Public Spaces Bill. There is an urgent call to strengthen existing laws that need to be refitted to modern everyday realities of Filipino women.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros recognizes the initial feeling of shame and embarrassment of any person who falls victim to harassment affirming that, “the first impulse is a wave of emotions – hiya, galit, lungkot, all rolled into a single incomprehensible mess. This is a natural response to trauma.” The lawmaker, however, is quick to reassure that there is another side to this fear. She asks the victims to not be afraid and not be ashamed. “It can be overcome, and it can be harnessed,” she insists.
Senator Hontiveros points out that while Republic Act 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995 protects exists; there is a need to empower women to actively fight back harassers and assaulters to report incidents. “It takes the fight against sexual harassment to the ground,” the Senator emphasizes. The Safe Streets and Public Spaces Act of 2017, or Senate Bill 1326’s importance manifests in the insurance of penalizing gender-based harassment in public spaces including the streets, schools, and of course -- clubs, gigs and concerts venues.
Another important part of the Safe Spaces bill is the “no means no” principle. This principle drives on the importance of consent. “No means no, whether in English, Filipino or in her local dialect,” the Senator Hontiveros explains. “Pag sinabi ng isang babae na hindi siya komportable, pag ayaw niya, o pag sinabi niyang ‘hindi,' walang ibang ibig sabihin yon. It means the advance is unwelcome and should clearly stop,” she furthers.
“We should never be afraid to say no,” she lays out. The Senator calls for fearlessness in fighting back not only for our own safety, but for the sake of our peers. "We should never be afraid to call out harassment not only when we experience it, pero lalong lalo na kung nakikita natin itong ginagawa sa iba (but especially when we see being done to others).
SEN. RISA HONTIVEROS ON THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING THE MUSIC INDUSTRY A SAFE SPACE:
Alam ninyo, kahit hindi ako musician, I love music. And alam ko na for music to be music, it must be free, and the people who make it should be free to be themselves. Music, gaya ng pagsusulat, o paggawa ng peilikula, o pagpinta, is an expression of oneself. It is my hope that the music scene remains a free and safe space for everyone – men, women, gays and lesbians and transgender individuals alike. Because no one should come to a place of joy, art and fellowship under the shadow of fear, pressure and abuse."
MARIAH REODICA, VOCALIST OF THE BAND THE BUILDINGS ON CREATING AN INCLUSIVE MUSIC SCENE:
We are working towards a more inclusive music scene. We condemn the allegations of sexual misconduct that has shaken the local music world. Now is the period of reflection and reckoning: men around me are examining their past actions. There should be no harassment, no sexism, no homophobia in these places of artistry. We need hope and strength, which we can find in each other. We need the perseverance not to lose sight of the bigger picture: safe spaces for everyone.”
ALY CABRAL OF TEENAGE GRANNY AND OURSELVES THE ELVES on the other hand, pushes for female musicians and artists to come together and “celebrate women's creativity:
We should demand that bars, clubs, and other concert venues should be safe spaces for everyone, including women and the LGBTQ,” urged Cabral. "Combatting misogyny is everyone's responsibility. In the case of the music community, there needs to be commitment from production groups, concert organizers, venue owners, artists and their audience in uniting together to help end this culture of harassment."
MICH DULCE, FASHION DESIGNER AND MUSICIAN, ON THE SAFE SPACES BILL WILL HELP IN SOLVING SYSTEMIC MISOGYNY:
My recent experience having been groped in public in Makati by a stranger made me realize that we need a legislation to counter this problem. This is a systemic problem that needs a systemic solution. The Safe Spaces Bill will help facilitate a change in culture towards a more respectful manner of how society treats women and the LGBT. We are extending help in solidarity to these women. We are currently speaking to counselors and lawyers to support those women who will decide to file cases against their harassers. This time, sexual harassment will not fly. And those who committed these crimes will pay.”