I saw a viral post on Facebook about a woman breastfeeding her child in a jeepney. Certainly, if I am placed in the same position as the other passengers, I might as well feel uncomfortable. Is there a crime in such lack of modesty?
I am sorry to learn such sentiment from a woman who is supposed to have a deeper understanding of the mother’s situation and the needs of the child. Either way, be aware that breastfeeding in a public utility vehicle (PUV), like a jeepney, is not prohibited, let alone considered a crime. In fact, our state policy encourages, protects and supports the practice of breastfeeding. Briefly, Section 2 of Republic Act 10028, also known as the “Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009,” reads as follows:
“Sec. 2. Policy Statement. – The State adopts cohabitation as a national policy to encourage, protect and support the practice of breastfeeding. It shall create an environment where the basic physical, emotional and psychological needs of mothers and infants are satisfied by the practice of rooming in and breastfeeding.” (Underlining and underlining provided)
In fact, Section 31 of Republic Act (RA) 11313, or commonly referred to as the Safe Spaces Act, states that breastfeeding in public is an exemption and should not be penalized, namely:
“Section 31. Derogations. – Acts which are legitimate expressions of indigenous culture and tradition, as well as breastfeeding in public are not sanctioned.” (Underlining and underlining provided)
On the other hand, if there is an act that is punishable by law, the same goes for the lewd and intrusive look, misogynistic and misogynistic comments, statements and insults towards the mother who is breastfeeding her child . In truth, the penalty for this is qualified under Section 15 versus Section 11 of the Act, thus:
“Safe Spaces Act
Section 11. Specific acts and sanctions for gender-based sexual harassment in streets and public spaces. – The following acts are illegal and will be punished as follows:
(a) For acts such as swearing, wolf whistling, hissing, prying and intrusive staring, taunting, chasing, unwanted invitations, misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist slurs, persistent spam comments on one’s appearance, incessant requests for personal information such as name, contact and social media contact details or destination, use of words, gestures or actions that ridicule on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, identity and/or expression, including sexist, homophobic and transphobic statements and slurs, persistent telling of sex jokes, use of sexual names, comments and requests, and any statements that has invaded a person’s personal space or threatens the person’s sense of personal security –
(1) The first offense shall be punished with a fine of one thousand pesos (P1,000.00) and twelve (12) hours of community service, including attendance at a gender sensitivity seminar to be conducted by the PNP in coordination with the LGU (local government unit) and the PCW (Philippine Commission on Women);
(2) The second offense shall be punished by arresto menor (6 to 10 days) or a fine of three thousand pesos (P3,000.00);
(3) The third offense shall be punished with minor arrest (from 11 to 30 days) and a fine of ten thousand pesos (10,000.00 pesos).
Section 15. Qualified Streets, Public Spaces and Online Sexual Harassment. – The immediately higher penalty in degrees will be applied in the following cases:
(a) If the act takes place in a common carrier or LCV, including but not limited to jeepneys, taxis, tricycles or app-based transportation network vehicle services, where the perpetrator is the driver of the vehicle and the injured party is a passenger;
(b) If the injured party is a minor, an elderly or disabled person, or a nursing mother breastfeeding her child; xx x.”
We hope we were able to answer your questions. This advice is based solely on the facts you have related and our assessment of them. Our opinion may change when other facts are changed or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily chronicle of the public ministry. Questions for Chef Acosta can be sent to [email protected]