Jacqueline De Guia, CHR spokesperson, said adolescents and young teenagers lack the emotional, physical and psychological maturity to make informed decision about sex.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File
CHR urges passage of bills raising age of sexual consent from 12
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - January 23, 2020 - 3:06pm

MANILA, Philippines — Proposals to raise the minimum age of sexual consent in the Philippines must be passed immediately and enforced resolutely to ensure the protection of children, the Commission on Human Rights said.

CHR stressed that increasing the minimum age of consent in the country from the current 12 years old is “in fact, long overdue.”

The average age of consent in the world is pegged between 16 and 18 years old.

Jacqueline De Guia, CHR spokesperson, said adolescents and young teenagers lack the emotional, physical and psychological maturity to make informed decision about sex.

“The crucial, formative years of adolescence can be confusing and daunting. Yet, the existing law expects children age 12 to be discerning when it comes to sex. This makes them easy prey for sex offenders,” she said.

Sexual intercourse with a child as young as 12 is not automatically considered rape with the current age of consent, De Guia pointed out.

“Victims have to recount the incident, which amplifies their trauma. The stress and trauma resulting from rape are beyond the emotional capability of children. The scar they bear can be lifelong without proper intervention,” she said.

Figures from the Philippine National Police showed there were 7,349 reported cases of rape in 2018.

De Guia also said the current age of consent is not consistent with the legal age to access reproductive health services.

“Exacerbated by the lack of sex education, this makes children prone to unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Meanwhile, they have easy access to dating apps as well as pornographic materials on the internet, rendering them even more vulnerable.

In 2018, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS said the Philippines is the country with the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the Asia and the Pacific region.

Proposal to increase age of consent to 16

De Guia said the filing of House Bill 4160, which aims to increase the minimum age of sexual consent to 16 years old, is a “welcome development” for child protection.

"Children are at risk everyday because of archaic laws. Heightened urgency is expected to ensure their protection. Laws that genuinely protect them from the ever-changing, volatile, and open world need to passed immediately and eventually enforced resolutely," De Guia said.

The bill was filed by Majority Leader Martin Romualdez (Leyte) and Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez (Tingog Sinirangan Party-list) in August 2019. The proposed measure was referred to the committee on revision of laws on Tuesday.

“The establishment of a minimum age of sexual consent is a critical component in shielding children from sexual violence. Children below such age are considered without the power to resist and to give their genuine and fully informed consent to any sexual activity,” the principal authors said.

The proposed measure also seeks equal protection for boys who fall victim to rape or sexual abuse, which will help address the high vulnerability of boys to sexual violence.

According to a study of the Council for the Welfare of Children and UNICEF, 4.1% of boys experienced sexual violence compared to 2.3% among girls.

Sens. Risa Hontiveros, Leila De Lima and Imee Marcos also filed bills seeking to raise the minimum age of sexual consent. All remain pending at the committee level. 

COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS RAPE
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