A bill prohibiting child marriage and declaring it illegal has been sponsored before the Senate plenary on Wednesday.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Risa Hontiveros, noted that a child should not be allowed to get married when they are not even allowed to enter into a legal contract before they reach the legal age of 18.
The bill defines child marriage as any marriage entered into where one or both parties are under 18 years of age and solemnized in civil or church proceedings, or in any recognized traditional, cultural or customary manner.
Under Hontiveros’ proposal, a person who causes, fixes, facilitates or arranges a child marriage shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period and a fine of not less than P40,000, provided, however, that should the perpetrator be an ascendant, step-parent, or guardian of the minor, the penalty will constitute a 12-year jail time, a fine of not less than P50,000 and the loss of parental authority over the same.
“Child marriage is not just about poverty but the existing well-entrenched gender inequality. We should not keep the cultural practice that keeps females disproportionately affected and are just seen as someone who is contributing less to the household since she will eventually leave the house and join their husband,” Hontiveros said.
“Female children should not be valued less than male children,” she added.
Hontiveros said that the bill will also provide culturally appropriate comprehensive programs and services to be formulated by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in coordination with other government agencies identified as duty-bearers and with the concerned civil society organizations and non government organizations. — BM, GMA News