The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has supported the Senate’s decision to adjust the age for filing statutory rape in the Philippines, something that many sectors have long demanded.
The “age of sexual consent” in the country is currently 12 years old, the second-lowest age for determining statutory rape in the world. Senate Bill 2332 aims to raise it to 16 by amending the Revised Penal Code.
On September 21, it was passed in the second Senate hearing, which was executed after a lengthy debate on the proposal.
“At 12 years old, the Philippines has the lowest age to determine statutory rape in Asia and second lowest in the world next to Niger at 11 years old. Children around this age have not yet reached full emotional maturity to allow them to make sound decisions,” said CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia, Friday.
“Likewise, based on government data, children aged 14 to 18 are most vulnerable to rape and incest.”
They added that sexual consent for 12-year-olds is also outdated, especially since the law states that minors cannot access reproductive health, family planning, and HIV testing services without their parents’ consent.
Higher statutory rape age passes 2nd Senate hearing
In addition, SB 2332 extends the definition of exploitation (rape) to a crime that can be committed by anyone else, regardless of gender. The current definition only covers men and women.
“As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, among others, the Philippines is bound to its State obligation to ensure the protection of children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse,” said De Guia.
“Although ending the horrendous act of child rape in the country might take a longer time to realise, the Commission strongly lobbies for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 2332 as it would be a landmark legislation in ensuring children’s protection against rape and other abuses.”
If passed into law, sexual intercourse with a 16-year-old or younger will be considered statutory rape even with the child’s consent.