Philippines bans child marriage effective immediately.
Child marriage is now a criminal offense under a new law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte. A copy of Republic Act 11596, also known as an act prohibiting the practice of child marriage and imposing penalties was provided to the media on Thursday after Duterte signed it on Dec. 10, 2021.
Child marriage is a practice that perpetuates prejudice, abuse and exploitation of children, which is why Duterte signed the law to eliminate all traditional and cultural practices and institutions that promote these acts.
We must safeguard and encourage women’s empowerment because the state acknowledges their important role in nation-building. In order to end discrimination and inequality, RA 11596 requires the removal of uneven institutions and behaviors.
A marriage between two individuals who are under the age of 18 that is solemnized via civil or religious means, or in any other recognized custom, tradition or culture constitutes a child marriage.
“Unlawful and banned acts” include the facilitation and solemnization of child marriage and the cohabitation of an adult with a minor. It reads in Section 5 of RA 11596: “The preceding unlawful or forbidden conduct are regarded as public offenses and can be started by any concerned citizen.”
Anyone who causes, fixes, enables or organizes a child marriage faces a minimum fine of PHP40,000 and a maximum sentence of prision mayor.
A fine of not less than PHP50,000 and the loss of parental power for an offender who is the child’s biological parent, adoptive parent, stepparent or guardian is the maximum penalty. In addition to the maximum punishment of prision mayor and a fine of not less than PHP50,000, any public official who performs or officiates a child marriage would be permanently disqualified from office.
Cohabitation with a kid outside of marriage is punishable by up to one year in prison and up to PHP50,000 in fines, and if the culprit is a public official they may be permanently barred from holding office.
Prison mayor is classified as a “afflictive” sentence because of the length of time spent behind bars. The minimum time is six years and one day to eight years while the middle period is eight years and one day to 10 years.
Legal assistance, health care, counseling, educational opportunities and skills training, as well as temporary shelters and any other forms of assistance required to safeguard those who have been harmed by child marriage are all included in RA 11596’s mandate for the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which is in charge of putting the law into action.
Campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of child marriage will be a part of this effort. As a result of the new legislation, the Department of Education must include it in its comprehensive sexuality education curriculum modules and discussions on the implications and ramifications of child marriage that are culturally sensitive and age appropriate.
This awareness and prevention campaign will be implemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) through barangay-level education programs and child-centered initiatives at the barangay level. On September 27, 2021, the Senate and House of Representatives passed Senate Bill No. 1373 and House Bill No. 9943, respectively.
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