House okays bill expanding law on violence vs women

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    THE House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on final reading a bill which seeks to expand the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act by including abusive online behavior against them in the list of prohibited acts.

    Congressmen approved House Bill 5869 or the Expanded Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children (E-VAWC) Act which also increased penalties for violators.

    The bill seeks to strengthen legal protection for women and their children who encounter cyber-abuse or harassment online.

    The measure prohibits “abusive, exploitative, or otherwise damaging cyber behavior against women and their children.”

    House Bill 5869 consolidated four similar measures filed by Reps. France Castro (ACT party-list), Eufemia Cullamat (Bayan Muna party-list), Arlene Brosas (Gabriela party-list), and Joy Myra Tambunting (Parañaque City).

    The measure was approved after recent developments in social media and information technology led to new circumstances of abuse, which were not foreseen in the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act of 2004.

    HB 5869 specifically prohibits the use of photos, videos, or other media recordings to perpetrate violence against women and their children, especially if their nature is sexual, otherwise suggestive, non-consensual, or violent.

    The measure also prohibits stalking and cyber stalking, hacking of personal accounts or electronic devices, fabrication of fake information or news through text message, and the creation of fake or impersonating social media accounts.

    The proposed E-VAWC Act also increases the penalties for violators who stand to face jail time of 6 to 12 years, and a fine of between P300,000 and P500,000 from the previous P100,000 to P300,000.

    Violators would also be required to undergo mandatory psychological counseling and psychiatric treatment and report their compliance to the court.