A bill prohibiting child marriage was approved by the House of Representatives during its final reading on 05 September 2021, Monday, with 196 affirmative votes, 2 abstentions, and no negative votes, the lower chamber passed House Bill 9943.
Many consider this move a big step forward for children’s human rights.
MANILA — House Bill 9943 prohibits child marriage, and imposes penalties to those who violate the bill, including the solemnizing officers, parents and guardians, or adults who facilitate the illegal marriage.
The bill also stands against the marriage and co-habitation of an adult with a child outside of wedlock. The bill defines a “child” to be anyone below 18 years of age.
The penalties that await facilitators and officiators of these illegal marriages range from being fined from ₱40,000 to ₱50,000, depending on the relationship of the perpetrator to the child, and/or a six-to-twelve-year imprisonment.
One of the authors of the bill, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, says, the Philippines ranks 10th among the countries with the highest absolute number of child marriages. The United Nations World Population Prospect recorded a total of 808,000 child marriages back in the year 2019.
Another author of the bill, Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera, says, child marriages deny children of their childhood, disrupt their education, and limit their opportunities.
“Women and girls’ development is hindered by CEFM (child and early forced marriages), as married girls most likely drop out of school and lose the chance to be educated, gain skills and knowledge which will help her gain a good job and earn for herself and her family,” Ms Herrera says.
Ms Herrera also cites the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as she mentions nine out of ten adolescent births in developing countries occur within a marriage or union. Such cases make adolescent girls more vulnerable to pregnancy-related complications, which are among the leading causes of death among adolescents in the world.
Filipino Muslims, however, are still currently allowed to get married as minors under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws (Presidential Decree No. 1083). Congressman Lagman says, a short bicameral period may be granted to Muslim communities to fully abide by the ban on child marriage. (RF/The MiNT)