Did you know that the Philippines currently has the lowest age of sexual consent in Asia—actually one of the lowest in the world? I bet you didn’t. This is a sad truth.
What’s more sad about it is that not a lot of people know about this.
Senators Risa Hontiveros and Win Gatchalian have been lobbying to raise the age of consent to 18 years old since 2017, but this time, Sen. Hontiveros has filed a bill together with Sen. Lila De Lima. Both senators said that the country’s legal consent age runs contrary to the international standard set forth in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which the Philippines is a signatory.
The Convention defines a child as every human being below the age of 18 years, which is similar to Republic Act No. 7610, or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act,” which defines a child as anyone below 18 years old.
“This (Senate Bill No.163) is to conform with the current legal age in the country. All sexual acts with minors will be treated as statutory rape,” she said. “For every hour that we do not pass this bill, another child’s future is put on the line,” she adds.
News of this bill filling by the two women senators was aired in the news a few days ago. But the responses of the majority of people on social media were common: not many new about this legal age of sexual consent.
Why is it 12 years old in the first place? Did a pedophile legislate that?
— Lou (@loufreyes) August 9, 2019
Thank you for this information. All the while 18 yrs old ang batayan when we are talking about legal age, pero for sexual consent 12 yrs old? It's but proper to ammend this rule or law or whatever it is.
— Missy (@missymdel) August 9, 2019
I just found out that the age of sexual consent in the Philippines is 12. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?!
— Onsione Moscra (@onionesk) May 11, 2019
Dang I just have known that the age of sexual consent here in the Philippines is 12 years old. What the fook.
— undefined (@celeuphonious) May 19, 2019
At 12 years old, these children are already seen by the law of the land as legal consenters to any forms of sexual acts done to them. According to UNICEF Philippines, our country has the lowest age of consent in Asia, meaning that having sex with minors this young is not considered statutory rape.
Sen. De Lima said Senate Bill No. 622 intends to protect minors against the crime of rape and other forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. She said that minors, especially those aged 12 years old, have scant knowledge about sexual intercourse because there is no proper sex education provided in schools.
“Allowing our children at the tender age of 12 years old to decide on their own whether the time is proper to engage in sexual intercourse—would be like abandoning them blindfolded in a tunnel of mazes,” she said.
We advocate for the increase in the age to determine statutory rape in the Philippines. Why? The PH has the lowest age of sexual consent in Asia and one of the lowest in the world.
— Child Rights Network #ChildrenNotCriminals (@CRNPhilippines) July 29, 2018
Sen. De Lima’s comment about the lack of proper sex education in schools is true, and also a big factor as to how the culture and dialogue of sex are in the country. The latest report on the implementation of the RH law revealed the Department of Education (DepEd) has not yet developed the minimum standards of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) that schools and other learning facilities should comply with.
The report states, “DepEd has already included CSE in its K to 12 curriculum although it has not yet adopted the CSE standards developed by a panel of experts in consultation with teachers, parents, RH providers, and the adolescents themselves. Teachers have yet to be trained on how best to deliver age-specific CSE within the K to 12 curriculum.”
Save the Children Philippines, an independent children’s organization, believes most parents are not equipped with the right information and communication skills in discussing sex education, especially in the Philippines where most people are too conservative to talk about sex.
“Ang mga magulang, may kaalaaman sila sa adolescent sexual and reproductive health kasi pinagdaanan nila ’to,” (Parents know about adolescent sexual and reproductive health because they went through it) Dr. Miel Nora, technical advisor on Adolescent Sexuality and Reproductive Health of Save the Children Philippines told ABS-CBN News.
“Ang sinasabi sa study, 85 percent alam nila ang tungkol sa puberty changes, romantic relationship. Pero ’pag idi-discuss nila ito sa kanilang mga anak, medyo reluctant sila. Hindi nila alam kung kailan ituturo,” (A study says 85 percent of parents know about puberty changes, romantic relationships. But they are reluctant to discuss it with their children. They don’t know when to teach that) he added, referring to the group’s baseline study in 2017.
Lack of sexual education was seen as one of the reasons why the Philippines has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Asia.
The Department of Education has been working on implementing comprehensive sex education courses, and this is a matter of urgency. The young generation is truly at risk. And we’re not just talking about knowledge in the reproductive process, contraceptives, and family planning, but proper sex education also includes matters of consent, acts of rape, violence, and sexual abuse.
The Filipino people need proper guidance and knowledge when it comes to matters of sexual discussions. Taboo culture when it comes to sex has to go—this is the only way we can address issues like the raising of the legal age of sexual consent, and other elements regarding these.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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