Until now, adults living in the Philippines could have sexual relations with children as young as 12 years old without having to worry about the law. It’s over now. The Philippine government has just amended a nearly 100-year-old law to raise the legal age of consent to 16. A “historic” decision that aims to strengthen the protection of the young against sexual violence, which has long been considered insufficient in the country.
Under new legislation signed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, adults who have sex with minors under the age of 16 can now be prosecuted for “misappropriation of a minor,” as reported International Mail† The maximum penalty is 40 years in prison. However, an exemption is provided for adolescent couples, if the age difference is not more than three years and if the partner agrees to the relationship.
This directive replaces the legislation in force in the archipelago since 1930, which fixed the sexual majority at 12 years. “Before this law was passed, the legal age of consent in the Philippines was the second lowest in the world, after Nigeria, where it is 11 years,” recalls the American television channel CNNquoted by International Mail† The media called this new decision a“historical”while many child protection organizations have been calling for this change for decades.
A country characterized by sexual violence and pedocrime
This new legislation marks a turning point for the country, which is heavily characterized by sexual violence and pedocrime. In 2015, a UNICEF study reported that about 17% of Filipinos aged 13 to 17 had already experienced sexual violence in the archipelago. According to the same survey, one in 25 children has also been raped. The directive signed by President Duterte “Sends a very strong message: Rape of children is a heinous crime and should be punished accordingly,” said said Rowena Legaspi, the executive director of the Center for Legal Rights and Child Developmentquoted by NEWS†
In January 2022, the Philippine president had signed a new law banning marriages before the age of 18. Enough to bolster protections for the youngest, while one in six minors in the Philippines marries before they come of age. In addition to these advances, several NGOs are now calling on the government to implement a more comprehensive reform of the country’s justice system to fight the “culture of silence” associated with pedocrime, the report said. International Mail†