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Philippine Bill Raising Age of Sexual Consent from 12 to 16 Signed into Law

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Sexual Consent Age Between 12 to 16

The Philippines now have a law that raises the legal age of sexual consent activity from 12 to 16. The Office of the President announced on Monday. The law protects minors from rape and sexual abuse.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) records the Philippines as one of the two countries with the lowest minimum ages of sexual consent, alongside Nigeria’s age of 11.

Seven out of ten rape victims in the nation were youngsters, according to a 2015 survey by UNICEF. And the regional non-governmental group Center for Women’s Resources.

Sexual Violence Increasing Between 13 – 17 Years

One in five respondents, between the ages 13 to 17, experienced sexual violence, the study found. Moreover, one in 25 respondents said they experienced forced consummated sex during childhood.

The bill is gender-neutral, stating that 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. This criterion is likewise not applicable if the sex was positively identified as consensual and neither abusive nor exploitative.

Furthermore, the above exemption does not apply if one of the individuals involved is under 13.

“We welcome this legal development and hope that it will help protect young girls from rape and sexual abuse.  Josalee Deinla told this, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) spokesperson. The lawyers’ organization provides legal help to poor and marginalized sectors in the country.

One of the bill’s main sponsors, Lawrence Fortun, said the bill is “a major step forward.”

“I am happy that our collaborative efforts to press for stronger protection against rape and other types of sexual assault are advancing,” he declared in a statement.

Activists in the country have been lobbying to raise the age of sexual consent as early as the 1980s. Because of how often children as young as 12 are bullied into silence by predators. As well as how predators may claim that their victims also give their assent. It claims that the previous rule gave predators more protection.

Low Age Contribution to High Level of Sex Trafficking

Victims’ advocates also say that the low age of consent contributed to “high levels of sex trafficking and teenage pregnancy” in the country, as described by international rights organizations. This is further compounded by gaps in the implementation of existing laws.

The law, therefore, remained unchanged for 91 years until Monday. In 2021, UNICEF Philippines child protection chief Patrizia Benvenuti said that a lack of education and understanding among lawmakers. And the general public on concepts like children’s cognitive development and the ability to give informed consent were factors to this.

In a statement, UNICEF commended the “legislative milestone,” stating that it is “an essential step towards fulfilling children’s rights. That is protection from sexual violence, abuse and exploitation.”

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