Child marriage is now banned in the Philippines, under a law that came into effect Thursday, January 6. “The State (…) considers child marriage to be a practice that abuses minors because it demeans, degrades and demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of the child ”, says the law.
In this Southeast Asian archipelago, one in six girls is married before the age of 18. Plan International, a UK-based rights group that campaigned for the passage of the law, ranks the Philippines in 12e world rank in the number of child marriages concluded in the country.
From now on, anyone who marries a minor, cohabits with them, arranges or celebrates such unions, is liable to twelve years in prison.
According to the Philippine government, the law complies with international conventions on the rights of women and children.
500 million married women children in the world
Ana Maria Locsin, Director for the Philippines of Plan International, welcomed the new law to Agence France-Presse (AFP):
“Child marriage is a harmful practice that can have a lasting impact throughout the lives of girls and boys. It denies them the right to be free from violence, the right to education, and sexual and reproductive health rights. “
However, certain provisions of the law will remain in abeyance for a year for Muslim and indigenous communities, where engagements and child marriages are relatively common. The purpose of the transition period is to give the government time to convince the followers of this practice to give it up.
The Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, has a large Muslim minority, which lives mainly in the south of the country.
In the Muslim Autonomous Region of the southern island of Mindanao, the deputy speaker of the local parliament, Ziaur-Rahman Adiong, said several members of his assembly tried to convince the president, Rodrigo Duterte, to veto the government. law, without success. In this region, a law of 1977 allows Filipino Muslims to marry when they reach puberty, defined for women on the date of their first period.
More than 500 million girls and women currently alive in the world were married in their infancy, the highest rates being recorded in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, recalls a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) published in 2021. Recent data, however, shows that child marriage is generally on the decline across the world.
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Philippines bans child marriage