By Billy Begas
Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera on Monday urged the House of Representatives to approve the measure banning child marriage in the country.
Herrera and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman are the authors of House Bill 1486 which is pending before the House Committee on Justice. A similar measure was approved in the Senate in November 2020.
She said HB 1486 will be referred to the House Committee on Women today (March 8) since it is among the top priorities in the women’s agenda of the legislative chamber.
Herrera said 12 million girls are married worldwide before the age they reach 18 or three girls are married off every 10 seconds.
The Philippines is ranked 12th in the world in terms of absolute number of child brides. Data from the 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) reveal that one out of six Filipina girls are married before they turn 18.
“Shockingly, 2 percent or 14,520 girls were married before they turned 15 years old,” Herrera said.
She added that despite the prevalent law like the Family Code of the Philippines, which sets 18 as the legal age of marriage, there are communities practicing child marriage as part of tradition and as mandated by their own cultures and personal laws.
Under the measure, a person who causes, fixes, facilitates, or arranges a child marriage shall be considered as responsible for “acts of neglect, abuse, cruelty, or exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to the child’s development” and shall be punished under the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (Republic Act 7610).