It’s been two days since we’ve heard about the passing of Senate Bill 1373, also known as the ‘Girls not Brides’ act authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros, for its second reading. Under this bill, child marriages will now be considered illegal—as it should have always been.
Should it be fully passed as law, anyone who is involved in a child marriage would be penalized with prision mayor, which means they would be imprisoned for about 6-12 years and could be fined no less than P40,000. The same goes for whoever officiated the union.
What if the perpetrator is related to the child, be it their legal guardian or blood relative? They’d be sentenced to 12 years of jail time and fined P50,000. Aside from that, they’ll also be losing their legal rights over the child.
You may be asking, “Why bother passing this bill?” According to the Girls Not Brides website, about 15% of Filipino girls are wed before the age of 18 and 2% of them are wed before they’re 15. This amounts to over 726,000 child marriages—giving Philippines the 12th spot in countries with the highest number of child brides. The main factors to the rising number of child brides are trafficking and religion, with the latter heavily reliant on the fact that our country has been vehemently opposed to divorce. According to the source, the lack of divorce puts child brides at risk.
The passing of the “Girls Not Brides” act for its second reading comes a day after the International Day of the Girl Child. It was co-authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Francis Pangilinan and Joel Villanueva.
“It’s a very happy bill. It coincides with our move to curb child pregnancies and to bring up the age of consent to 16,” Zubiri said. “This is good for our children.”