A group of female cyclists launched a petition to make cycling a safe space for all amid a viral post showing bikers disrespecting and objectifying a woman passing by.
In the petition posted on Facebook on March 20, the group called Women Bikers for Safe Spaces stated that the viral post showed the daily struggles of women bikers, aside from common road hazards.
“A recent viral post that showed photos of bikers coincidentally captured on a camera looking at a woman simply passing by was full of disrespectful memes and commentaries on the woman’s body. This raised concerns on how people defend and tolerate the culture of objectifying women,” read the petition of Safe Space Pinay.
“These kinds of behavior are reflected offline and are not helping our fears of being harassed, sexualized, and assaulted in the streets. Our bodies and what we wear are not, and will never be, consent for disrespect,” it added.
Since the tough lockdowns in the past year, many Filipinos took the risk to bike along major thoroughfares to get to their destinations either for work or for their needs due to the lack of transport options.
They continued to use bicycles even as quarantine measures relaxed and more public utility vehicles resumed operations.
This shift in public transport prompted local officials to develop bicycle lanes and other transport infrastructures for the bikers’ safety.
Women who bike, however, also encounter catcalling, being leered at, and harassed and other types of disrespectful behavior from fellow cyclists and other motorists.
“It is frustrating that we are repeatedly disrespected and blamed for what we do and wear. But we know that we can only feel safe if all of us work together to make it our goal,” the group said.
The cyclists further called for the implementation of the Safe Spaces Act, citing the responsibility of local government units to pass an ordinance to apply the measure to their constituents.
They also called on Congress for the immediate passage of the Bicycle Act for the safety of all cyclists online and offline.
“This is also a call for public institutions to protect us from all forms of harassment, including catcalling, unwanted sexual remarks, and misogynistic comments, no matter where we are,” they said.
As of writing, the petition of Safe Space Pinay had earned 350 out of 500 signatures.
Other groups such as Cycling Matters, End R.A.P.E. Culture and Lakbike also supported this petition on Facebook.
In a separate statement, women rights groups Gabriela likewise cited leering, intrusive graze and uploading photos without the person’s consent are punishable acts by law.
“They should be 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. Likewise, uploading or sharing other people’s photos without consent is also illegal and a form of gender-based online sexual harassment,” the organization said.
They urged the public to create safe spaces for all, especially for women, citing the observance of Women’s Month.
“This Women’s Month, let’s amplify our voices against misogyny and continue calling out all attitudes and behavior which reduces us to mere objects of pleasure,” Gabriela said.