President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday (March 4) signed a law raising the age of sexual consent from 12 to 16, a measure necessary to protect children from abuse, according to lawmakers.
Republic Act No. 11648, which amends Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act, was released to the public on Monday (March 7).
The new law increases the age for determining the commission of statutory rape, attempting to provide stronger protection for children against sexual abuse and exploitation.
RA 11684 states that “the seduction of a minor, sixteen and over but under eighteen years of age, committed by any person in public authority… or any person who, in any capacity, shall be entrusted with the education or custody of the minor seduced shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods."
Partners who are both 16 years old and below, with an age difference of not more than 3 years, are exempted from criminal liability under the law. Additionally, their sexual act should be proven to be "consensual, non-abusive, and non-exploitative," stated the law.
The exemption, however, would not apply if the victim is under 13 years old.
According to Senator Risa Hontiveros, the Philippines had the lowest age of consent in Asia and one of the lowest in the world, trailing Nigeria's age of 11, before the passage of RA 11648.
Hontiveros said that raising the age of sexual consent was "even made more urgent given the rise in cases of violence against women and children during this pandemic."
A study by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the a local non-governmental organization Center for Women's Resources in 2015, afound seven of 10 rape victims in the Philippines were children.
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.
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