Cycling has been the most accessible and eco-friendly means of transportation since the pandemic began. Some would argue that it is the safest way to avoid being inflicted by the dreaded COVID-19. But are cyclists, the women most especially, really safe on the road?
BY REIN TARINAY
MANILA — Pink polo shirt. This was what cyclist and vlogger Eloiza Regaliza wore when she was catcalled on the road exactly a year ago.
In a forum titled “Fighting Back Sexual Abuse” hosted by Gabriela Women’s Party and Women Bikers for Safe Spaces, Regaliza shared harrowing tales of receiving sexist remarks both on the road and online. Regardless of the clothes she is wearing, she said, “it will never be a consent nor an invitation to be catcalled.”
While on the road, Regaliza said two male construction workers approached her and told her, “Hi, babes.” During her indoor cycling livestream, a male commenter said she looked like she was about to have an orgasm.
“I am just biking in peace here,” she said in Filipino, “This is not okay. Okay?”
Pasikatin natin saglit si Kuya. Love is gone na talaga kay Mr. Onary Partosa ?? Hiya hiya din uy, profile pic mo pa sa…
Regaliza is one of the many women who have experienced harassment, catcalling, and unsolicited sexual remarks both on the road and online.
In their Facebook, Women Bikers for #SafeSpaces expressed that apart from the road hazards, women also face street sexual harassment and violence which worsen their daily commute.
“Now, we see that an alarming tolerance of feasting on women is getting viral in the community. Enough is enough! We call on the public to join our campaign for #SafeSpacesForAll – whether online or offline” the group added.
THIRSTY JOKES ARE NOT OKAY.
Mas lalong hindi nagiging komportable sa daan ang mga kababaihan dahil sa mga ganitong uri…
In a statement, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said that lewd posts and comments circulating in male-dominated online hubs and cycling communities “are clearly indications of the deep-seated sexism and objectification of women in our society that should never be tolerated.”
Brosas reminded that “leering and intrusive gaze are forms of street-based sexual harassment and are punishable under Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act.” She added that uploading or sharing other people’s photos without consent is also illegal and a form of gender-based online sexual harassment.
An ally in the calls for safe spaces and Bikers Unite’s Mark Louie Aquino highlighted the importance of speaking up against sexual harassment.
“Being silent means allowing this kind of things to happen. Let us encourage defending and speaking up against this backward culture,” Aquino said, whose wife is also a cyclist.
The groups initiated an online petition calling on cycling communities and other private stakeholders to step up and aim for solidarity in creating, maintaining, and promoting safe spaces for women.