The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has lauded the approval of Senate Bill No. 1373 or the “Girls Not Brides Act” on third and final reading by the Senate on Monday, calling it a “step forward” in the protection of children.
The “Girls Not Brides Act” criminalizes marriage between a minor (below 18 years old) and an adult. Even those who facilitate or solemnize these marriages will be penalized.
CHR Spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said that the Senate approval of the bill not only strengthens the protection of children, but also affirms the government’s commitment to uphold their best interests.
The bill has stressed that women and girls should participate in programs and projects related to the “Girls Not Brides Act,” while government agencies and officials will serve as “duty-bearers” in ensuring their cooperation.
De Guia said that the bill will undoubtedly upset some members of society, since this will clash with their cultural practices. However, the CHR is looking forward to the “culturally-appropriate” and comprehensive programs to be formulated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in coordination with other government agencies such as the National Commission on Indigenous People and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos.
“The CHR joins the proponents of this bill in giving every child, especially young girls, an opportunity to be free from tragic marriages – oftentimes driven by economic and cultural pressures,” she said.
“Let us instead provide better opportunities for children through better access to education and self-growth so that they may carve for themselves the future that they aspire and deserve, with support from a society that equally wishes them the best,” concluded de Guia.