CHR lauds passage of bills to ban child marriage in PH

Published September 8, 2021, 4:59 PM

by Jel Santos


The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) paid tribute to Congress for the passage of the bills that would prohibit child marriage in the Philippines and hoped for the immediate enactment of a law.

In a statement, the CHR referred to House Bill No 9943 on the “Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage” and Senate Bill No. 1373 on “Girls Not Brides Act.”

House Bill 9941 got 196 affirmative votes in the House of Representatives, while Senate Bill 1373 has been approved since Nov. 2020.

The bills seek to protect children by “prohibiting child marriage and declaring it as illegal, providing programs and imposing penalties for violation thereof.”

Child Marriage

Child marriage, under the said bills, is the “formal marriage between children under 18 years of age, and between an adult and a child which is considered to be a form of forced marriage, given that one or both parties have not expressed full, free and informed consent.”

“This welcome development recognizes the State’s obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child; the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; and Republic Act No. 7610, the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitations, and Discrimination Act,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

“We hope for the immediate passage of the law, while we all seek ways on how we can provide better living conditions and a nurturing a society to every Filipino child, so they can exercise freely their rights and reach their full potentials,” she said.

In its previous statements, the CHR had repeatedly reiterated that marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of the rights of a child that impacts every aspect of a child’s dignity and life.

Child marriage, the commission stressed, undermines girls’ health, including sexual and reproductive health rights, and increases the risk of sexual and gender-based violence.

“Furthermore, early marriage interrupts girls’ education and compromises their political and economic participation,” it said.

De Guia said the CHR is “hopeful with the government’s commitment to uphold the best interest of the child and to end the abusive practice of child marriage in the Philippines.”

Child marriages are still being observed by Muslim and indigenous cultural communities in the country even while the legal marrying age for Filipinos is 18. The Code of Muslim Personal Laws or Section 1 Article 16 of Presidential No. 1083 allows marriage at the age of puberty or at the onset of first menstruation.