A win towards genuine child welfare: the Senate approved on its third and final reading a bill raising the age of sexual consent in the Philippines from 12 to 16 years old on Monday, September 27.
The bill aims to strengthen the state’s protection of children against rape by raising the statutory age to 16. Under the current law, adults may legally engage in sexual intercourse with minors 12 years old and above. The Anti-Rape Law of 1997 only criminalizes acts of sexual intercourse with minors under 18 if no consent was given, or if the act involved force, threat, or intimidation.
The Philippines’ age of sexual consent is currently the lowest in Southeast Asia, and is one of the lowest in the world.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, principal author of the bill, welcomed the update on her social media page, calling it a “historic legislation that we have long owed our children.”
“As principal author of the act, I am heartened that I, along with my colleagues in the Senate, have been given the opportunity to be part of this groundbreaking measure. I would also like to thank Senator Richard Gordon for sponsoring this bill in this 18th Congress”, Hontiveros wrote.
According to senator Hontiveros, a women’s and child’s rights advocate, said that the law caused lifelong psychological trauma and pain among children. “Our current law allows adults to have sex with children who are as young as 12 years old. Our children would be made to testify in court, recall traumatic events, just to prove the crime of rape. The pain of remembering alone has scarred many Filipino kids. The lifelong psychological and emotional injury inflicted upon them is a cruelty we should no longer allow”, she said.
Hontiveros added, “This is as much a victory for our children as it is a victory for all advocates, civil society organizations, women’s rights groups, and concerned parents and individuals who are committed to protect and defend every Filipino child. Today, the Senate has finally and clearly said no to child rape. Today, the Senate has sounded the clarion call for change.”
This article, Bill raising age of sexual consent to 16 years old passed in Senate, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.