House panel OKs bill protecting women, kids against electronic violence

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The House Committee on Women and Gender Equality has approved a substitute bill seeking to protect women and children from all forms of electronic violence.

The bill proposes amendments to Republic Act No. (RA) 9262, otherwise known as the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004” by including electronic violence against women and their children in the coverage of the law and providing penalties for such violations. Specifically, it seeks to amend Section 1 of RA 9262 so that the law shall be known as the “Expanded Anti-Violence Against Women And Their Children (E-VAWC) Act”.

The proposed inclusion of electronic violence is designed to protect women and children and penalize violators of the law who manipulate and take advantage of technology. Lawmakers said countless women and children have become victims of perverse recording and photography, and the reproduction and distribution of such content are malicious or predatory.

Under the bill, the term “electronic violence or information communication technology (ICT)-related violence” refers to any act or omission involving the use or exploitation of data or any form of information and communications technology which causes or is likely to cause mental, emotional, or psychological distress or suffering to the woman and her children.

Also included is the unauthorized recording, reproduction, distribution, use, sharing or uploading of any photograph, video, or any other form of electronic and/or artistic presentation exhibiting any sexually-related verbal or non-verbal expression or gesture of the woman and her children which may be construed as lewd, indecent, or obscene.

Electronic violence is also committed with the unauthorized recording, reproduction, distribution, use, sharing or uploading of any photograph, video, or any other form of electronic and/or artistic presentation depicting any purported violent or errant behavior of the woman and her children, or the use of intoxicating or prohibited substances or drugs.

Cagayan de Oro representative Rufus Rodriguez said that with the various advancements in technology, existing laws are not enough and there are still deficiencies and loopholes in the law.

“RA 9262 does not take into consideration the existence of a new form of violence now known as electronic violence against women or EVAW,” he said

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