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HomeWorld NewsBill passed to raise the age of consent in the Philippines

Bill passed to raise the age of consent in the Philippines

A step in the right direction was taken in the Philippines on Monday, as President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill that raises the minimum age of sexual consent for the first time in 91 years, in a bid to protect minors from rape and sexual abuse.

Until now, the Philippines had one of the world’s lowest minimum ages of sexual consent, behind Nigeria’s age of 11, according to UNICEF. A joint 2015 study by UNICEF and the Center for Women’s Resources, a local non-governmental group, showed seven of 10 rape victims in the Philippines were children. One in five participants ages 13 to 17 reported experiencing sexual violence, while one in twenty-five experienced forced sex during childhood, the study said.

Since the eighties activists have been fighting to raise the age of consent; Many claimed the laws protected the predator more than they did the children. Victims’ advocates believe that the Philippines’ low age of consent contributes to the high numbers of sex trafficking and teenage pregnancy. They feel that these ‘misfortunes’ are aggravated by gaps in the enforcement of existing laws. They said that the predator could claim that the child consented or convince the impressionable child to keep quiet about the abuse.
The Republic Act (RA) No. 11648, signed by Duterte on March 4, amends RA 3815 or the Revised Penal Code and RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act. The Bill, says any adult engaging in sexual contact with anyone 16 or under would be committing statutory rape, unless the age difference between them was three years or less and sex was proven to be consensual, and neither abusive nor exploitative. Childhood prostitution also falls under the category of illegal following the signing of this life-changing bill.

When asked to speak on the passing of the Bill, President Duterte said “I am elated that our collective efforts at pushing for stronger protection against rape and other forms of sexual abuse are advancing.” In a statement in response to the passing of the Bill, UNICEF called the change a “legislative milestone,” and an “an essential step towards fulfilling children’s rights to protection from sexual violence, abuse, and exploitation.”



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