: The Philippines Is Raising the Age of Consent. That May Not Be Enough to Protect Its Children #WorldNEWS In September 2020, the Supreme Court of the Philippines acquitted a man of child sexual abuse
@newsMNC 10 Days ago
The Philippines Is Raising the Age of Consent. That May Not Be Enough to Protect Its Children #WorldNEWS
In September 2020, the Supreme Court of the Philippines acquitted a man of child sexual abuse charges after he impregnated a 12-year-old girl.
The incident took place in 2012, when the man was 27. He was sentenced to more than 14 years in jail by a lower court in 2016, but appealed. The defendant argued that the sexual relationship was consensual, since the girl bore him not just one but two children before he was sentenced.
The countrys top justices ruled in his favor, saying that the court was “not prepared to punish two individuals and deprive their children from having a normal family life simply because the girl was a minor at the time. The court also ruled that the benefits of living in a nuclear family outweighed “any perceived dangers” from the relationship.
The persistence of such attitudes at the highest levels of the Philippine establishment is the result of a culture in which the sexual abuse of children is tragically common: around 1 in 5 children in the country fall victim to sexual violence. That, in turn, is a factor of the countrys age of consent, which, for the past 90 years has been 12—the lowest in Asia and one of the lowest in the world.
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For decades, predatory adults in the Philippines have had a green light to exploit the inability of children to properly understand consent—and children involved in cases of sexual abuse are often doubly traumatized as lawyers seek to establish whether or not consent was given. Says Senator Risa Hontiveros: “Theyve been asked questions like, ‘Did you enjoy it? Did you feel pleasure?’ in a bid to prove that they were willing participants.
But at long last, change might be coming. The senator is the co-author of a historic amendment that raises the age of consent to 16. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has meanwhile signed a bill banning child marriage and a law to ban online sexual exploitation is also underway.
However, advocates are far from satisfied. They say that unless law enforcement is significantly improved, and the bogged-down justice system reformed, the Philippines will continue to be a global hot spot for sexual violence against children.
TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images In this photo taken on December 2, 2020, Rose Alvarez, 16, whose name AFP has changed to protect her identity, speaks during an interview at a health centre in Manila.
Child sexual abuse in the Philippines
The conservatism of Philippine society, and the enormous emphasis on family, often makes it difficult for Philippine victims to speak up against their abusers, who are typically their relatives or connected to the family group.
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