CHR on law vs child marriage: ‘Milestone to abolish children’s abuse, exploitation’

Published January 28, 2022, 11:24 AM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki

Commission on Human Rights (CHR)

“Culture is not static and neither should it be used to justify harmful practices and structures that perpetuate discrimination, abuse, and exploitation,” the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) declared.

With its declaration, the CHR expressed “disappointment” and “deep concern” that some Muslim members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) want to veto Republic Act No. 11596, an Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage.

In a statement, the CHR Center for Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights Gender Ombud said that those who opposed the law cited their centuries-old culture.

“We are alarmed that these members have unilaterally claimed that the Bangsamoro community does not support the law and that some members have claimed ‘its culture’ and thus very hard to change,” it said.

“We disagree,” it stressed.

On the contrary, the CHR said RA 11596 should be lauded as a “milestone” in the country’s commitment to abolishing traditional and cultural practices and structures that perpetuate discrimination, abuse, and exploitation.

It pointed out that forced child marriage denies a child the right to education and right to health, and it increases their risk of abuse and exploitation, especially among girl children.

With the passage of the law, the CHR is hopeful that Filipino children will have a better future and fully enjoy their rights without discrimination.

It said: “The Commission stands with the passage of this important legislation. We cannot allow the plea for veto to be even considered. To entertain such plea is to nullify the success of women and girls….”

Instead of pushing for the veto, the CHR recommended that members of the BTA listen to their women and girls so that they will be able to adopt a view of Sharia that is not opposed to the protection of women and girls’ right to health, education, and the right to be free from violence, abuse, and exploitation.