House OKs bill penalizing e-violence vs. women

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 10) — The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading a measure that criminalizes electronic violence, which involves the use of information and communication technology.

The House unanimously voted in favor of House Bill 8655 or Expanded Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children (E-VAWC) Act, seeking to amend Republic Act No. 9262 or Anti-VAWC Act of 2004. The bill provides definitions of electronic VAWC, protective measures and penalties for violations of the law.

Under the proposed measure, it will be illegal to spread explicit videos of women and their children, stalk them online, and harass them through text messages. The creation of fake social media accounts to cause distress to women and their children will also be prohibited.

In the proposed law, inflicting electronic violence and threatening to cause electronic violence against women and their children are punishable by imprisonment for minimum of six years and a day and maximum of 12 years. In addition to imprisonment, the perpetrator will also pay a fine not less than ₱300,000 but not more than ₱500,000.

Gabriela Women's Party welcomed the passage of the bill, describing it as "a ray of good news amid looming approval of repressive measures and a historic advance of the #LabananAngAbuso campaign."

"With the approval of the measure, we hope to give women an increased chance to fight forms of violence and abuse as we educate them on their rights," Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas was quoted as saying in a statement posted on Facebook Monday.

Brosas called on the Senate to pass its version of the bill. She said the enactment of the proposed policy "will be a very valuable legacy of the 17th Congress to women long suffering from all kinds of abuse and harassment."

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Xianne Arcangel and Digital Producer Robert Vergara contributed to this report.