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Current Affairs

Raising age of consent in Philippines

Date: 10 March 2022 Tags: Bills & Laws

Issue

The age of sexual consent in Philippines has been raised from 12 to 16 years following amendment to the Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.

 

Background

Activists have been asking the government since many years to raise the age of consent in the country dominated by Roman Catholics.

 

Details

  • The law is designed as gender neutral and applies to both male and female children and offenders.

  • The law also holds the seduction of a minor over 16 but under 18 by a person entrusted with the custody of the minor to be punishable by a prison sentence.

  • The act makes Department of Education to create awareness of child rights by teaching subjects regarding the provisions of this law and including it in the basic curriculum.

 

Exceptions

  • The act has exceptions for consensual sex without intimidation or exploitation between a person under 16 years of age and a partner with not more than three years of age-gap. 

  • Non-abusive is defined as absence of undue influence, threat, fraudulent machinations, intimidation, coercion, physical, sexual, psychological, or mental injury.

  • Non-exploitative is defined as not taking unfair taking advantage of the child’s position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust during sexual activities.

 

Need for raising age of consent

  • The country still followed rules made 90 years back. UNICEF noted that age of consent was not compliant with the international average.

  • More than 20 percent Filipino children reported having experienced sexual violence in their childhood.

  • The culture of cover-up of sexual abuse by priests of church has increased. There was no law to prosecute such priests.

  • Setting 12 years as age of sexual consent goes against scientific evidence around brain development as well as physical and emotional maturity.

 

Significance

Philippines till now had one of the lowest sexual consent age in the world, which had resulted in one in five children experiencing sexual violence.

 

Age of consent across world

  • The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, defines child in India as anyone below 18 years.

  • Countries like China, Germany, Italy and Brazil have it as 14. The lowest age is in Angola at 12. The highest is in Bahrain at 21 followed by South Korea at 20.