The Child Rights Network has nothing but praises for the passage of House Bill 7836 on its second reading before the House of Representatives, which increased the age of determination of statutory rape from below 12 to below 16.
The group, comprised of child rights advocates, said the bill provides for stronger protection against rape, sexual exploitation, and abuse. And its passage could not have come in a more relevant time.
“We note with distinction how auspicious the timing of the passage of HB 7836 was, as it passed on November 25, in time for the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and also coinciding with the celebration of the National Children’s Month,” the group said in a statement.
The CRN said the House Committees on Revision of Laws and Welfare of Children has worked tirelessly to ensure that essential provisions were included in the bill, such as the equal protection for victims of rape, regardless of their gender.
They also included “close-in-age exemption” for consensual, non-abusive, and non-exploitative sexual relations between partners whose age difference is minor.
At the same time, they removed the forgiveness exemption if the rapist marries the victim.
“These key provisions were crafted with the help of various child development experts, and inputs from national consultations with children, youth, sexual abuse survivors, psychologists, family court judges, government agencies, and civil society organizations – clearly legislation that came from the grassroots,” the CRN said.
The CRN is expecting that the House of Representatives will expeditiously pass HB 7836 in the third and final reading, and that the counterpart bill will likewise be passed in the Senate.
READ MORE: House OKs bill redefining statutory rape