Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera announced that Congress is only one step closer to end child marriage or getting married before the age of 18, under the bill she authored which has been approved on second reading.
“It’s time to end child marriage which is a form of violence against children,” said Herrera, author of House Bill 9943 that seeks to prohibit child marriage.
Under the bill, the solemnization of child marriage and cohabitation of an adult with a child outside wedlock are considered unlawful acts. A fine of at least P40,000 and a jail term of up to 12 years await solemnizing officers, parents, guardians, or adults who fixed, facilitated, or arranged child marriage.
During her sponsorship speech, Herrera pointed out that the Philippines ranked 12th in child marriage in the world based on the 2017 State of the World’s Children Report by UNICEF.
She also added that 700,000 women aged 20-24 years old were first married or in union before the age of 18.
“Hindi po ito maliit na bagay. Libo-libo ng ating kabataang babae ay napilitang ikasal, makipagtalik at mabuntis habang sila ay bata pa,” she lamented.
In addition, she said that because of child marriages, children are deprived of enjoying their childhood, missing their golden opportunity to have education and pursue their personal dreams. “It denies them of their childhood, it disrupts their education, and it limits their opportunities,” said Herrera.
Child marriage also prevented boys and girls to choose whom to marry which should be of free will.
“We believe that there is an urgent need for a national law explicitly prohibiting child marriage and providing programs and services for prevention and response to ensure that all Filipino children—boys and especially girls—will have the opportunity to grow and develop to their full potential, and the chance to decide when and with whom to marry,” Herrera said.
Photo Credit: Facebook/bherrerady