PCW lauds initiatives to pass laws amending rape by raising age of sexual consent, prohibiting child marriage

Published September 26, 2021, 1:24 PM

by Gabriela Baron

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) lauded proposed legislative measures protecting women’s and children’s rights in both Houses of Congress, especially on raising the age of sexual consent in rape cases and prohibiting child, early, and forced marriages.

(Unsplash)

On Sept. 21, the Senate passed Senate Bill No. 2332 on the amendments to the Anti-Rape Law, including increasing the age for determining statutory rape and other acts of sexual abuse and exploitation to protect children. 

The House of Representatives approved the corresponding Bill in Dec. 2020.

Raising the age of sexual consent

PCW actively lobbied for the strengthening of the provisions of the Anti-Rape Law under its Women’s Priority Legislative Agenda for the 18th Congress.

The age of sexual consent in the country is currently 12 years old, the lowest in Southeast Asia.

PCW Executive Director Atty. Kristine Rosary E. Yuzon-Chaves is hopeful that lawmakers can see the urgency and the importance of protecting children.

“With the existing law, some children aged 13 years old and above are subjected to interrogations to prove in court that they did not consent to the sexual intercourse,” Chaves said.

“Children who are asked to relive the experience are left traumatized, confused, and conflicted as to their own experience, and worse, they begin to blame themselves.”

The proposal to raise the legal age of sexual consent in the country to at least 16 years old also addresses the recommendation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee in its 2016 Concluding Observations on the Philippines’ Combined 7th and 8th Periodic Report.

Prohibiting child marriage

PCW and various children rights advocates maintained that early child marriage has adverse physical, psychological, and emotional effects and will curtail the development of a child’s full potential.

In the Philippines, the legal age of marriage under the Family Code is 18 years old. However, in some religions and cultures, child marriage is practiced. Some allow the marriage of a female at the age of puberty.

Under the CEDAW, child marriage is prohibited. It states that “betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory.”

PCW said that if a law that makes child marriage illegal is passed, it will manifest Congress’ resolve to uphold the country’s commitments under international laws and carry out the provisions under the Magna Carta of Women.

 
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