Senator Richard J. Gordon today welcomed the signing of a law which defines the crime of statutory rape and other acts of sexual abuse, raising the bar from 12 to 16 years of age.
Gordon, chairman of the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee, called the signing a big step in the development of children’s rights.
“We are thankful for the passage of this bill, which ends the stigma of the Philippines having the lowest age of sexual consent in Asia. It fortifies protection of children’s rights, and criminalizes perverted minds,” said Gordon, a co-author and sponsor of Senate Bill 2332, on Monday.
“We in the Senate remain committed to uphold the dignity of every human person and guarantee full respect for human rights by crafting laws that promote and protect children’s physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being,” he continued.
The signing of the law now ends the lowest age of sexual consent in Asia, and one of the youngest in the world.
One significant provision of the law is that both men and women could be charged with statutory rape, which provides equal protection for both girls and boys.
The Philippines, a signatory in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, now enforces the international standard.
Gordon also stated that the signing of the law is a great way to celebrate International Women’s Month for it provides more protection for the country’s youth.
“Tayo ay nagpapasalamat dahil may batas nang mangangalaga sa ating mga kabataan at maiiwasan ang kalakip na trauma ng sekswal na pang-aabuso sa kanila,” remarked the senator.
“Hindi kasalanan ng mga bata ang pang-aabuso. Dapat nating panagutin ang mga responsable sa pangmamanipula at pagyurak sa kanilang dignidad,” he added.
A state-sponsored study conducted in 2015 of 3,866 children and young people ranging from 13 to 24 years old revealed that 24.9% of children reportedly suffered from any form of sexual violence.
Children were reportedly abused in all settings, whether it be at home, at school, or in the community.
Data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also showed that from 2015 to 2017, most of the victims of rape and child incest were between the ages of 14 to under 18, which is above the minimum age set by the Anti-Rape Law.
In addition, the law now provides for public and private institutions engaging in education, training, and care of children, as well as age-appropriate educational awareness in identifying and reporting sexual abuse acts to minors.