Civic group to solons: Pass anti-rape bill
(The Freeman) - December 7, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines — A non-government organization in Cebu is calling on the country’s legislators to approve the anti-rape bill, which seeks to amend and modernize the current law on rape.

Lawyer Noemi Truya-Abarientos, Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB) spokesperson, said the organization is pushing for the passage of the bill to address the “alarming” cases of incestuous rapes in the country.

“Nangusog ta ani kay daghan kaayo tag cases of incestuous rapes and these are rapes that are done by people who are close to the child, the family, the neighbors, and friends. The perpetrators are not actually strangers. They take advantage of the closeness…pwede sila mo-engage in sex with these children kay kaila sila,” she said.

The bill penned by Senator Risa Hontiveros aims to increase the age of statutory consent to 18 from 12.  She said the country's age of sexual consent is one of the lowest in the world, and the lowest in the region.

The senator earlier said the 20-year-old law must be revised to reflect the country's commitment to fighting rape and violence against women and children.

"Our Anti-rape law needs to be urgently updated. Currently, our rape law puts unjust burden on rape victims and is a far cry from doing justice to those aggrieved," said Hontiveros in her sponsorship speech last May.

The bill, according to Hontiveros, also seeks to revoke the forgiveness clause in the Revised Penal Code which states that the offender will be cleared of the charges as long as he marries the victim of rape; and emphasize the absence of consent as an essential element in citing the crime as rape.

Additionally, a person who uses his authority to commit rape adds to the severity of the crime, as well as using rape as a hate crime or crime motivated by prejudice.

Abarientos said the organization is conducting series of awareness campaigns on the stipulations of the bill and on the protection of children from sexual abuse or exploitation.

Among CLB’s campaigns is the “Child Not For Sale” which will be held on December 5. A research on commercial sexual exploitation of children will be tackled during the event.

The research, Abarientos said, covers the psychological perspective of the sexual abuse.

“It shows actually nganung ang mga bata would voluntarily go into commercial sex. We hope to get something out of it,” she said. (FREEMAN)

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