As the National Women’s Month kicks off today, Monday, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian emphasized the urgency to raise the age of sexual consent in the country.
This was after the Commission on Population and Development said some teenagers are victims of rape and the cases of teenage pregnancy in the Philippines surged in 2019.
POPCOM Executive Director Juan Antonio Perez III said two out of three of the partners of these adolescents at risk are older by 20 years.
An analysis of the 2019 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority would suggest 10,000 cases of statutory rape, Perez said.
While emphasizing the importance of keeping girls in school, where they can access information and sexuality education, Gatchalian also identified the need to amend the law on statutory rape as a means of running after abusers preying on young girls.
Gatchalian proposed raising the age of sexual consent to 18 in Senate Bill 739.
The age of consent in the Philippines is 12, the lowest in Asia and the second lowest in the world.
Last year, the Senate has approved in the committee level to raise the age of statutory rape to 16.
“In our country, we consider 18 as the age of majority but the age of sexual consent is 12 years old. We should amend the law to protect our youth and punish those who abuse them,” Gatchalian said.
He warned the COVID-19 pandemic could exacerbate domestic child violence, abuse, and the teenage pregnancy surge.
Of the 13,923 cases of violence against women and children recorded from March 15 to November 30 last year when restrictions posed challenges to rescue efforts, some 4,747 were cases of violence against children, according to the Philippine Commission on Women.