A congresswoman has filed a bill to raise the age of sexual consent from the current 12 years old to 16.
Yedda Marie Romualdez, the chair of the House Committee on the Welfare of Children, said today (Thursday, August 29) that the bill would help shield minors from sexual violence.
House Bill 4160, which was filed on Tuesday, seeks to impose life imprisonment for the crime of statutory rape against minors who are under 16 years old, regardless of the sexual orientation of the offenders or victims.
“If this measure is passed into law, any adult who has sexual intercourse with a minor below 16 years old is guilty of rape. Even if the minor has given his or her consent to the sexual act, it is still rape,” Rep. Romualdez said in a statement.
“The sexual orientation of the offender is of no importance. Men and women, even members of the LGBT community, may be charged with statutory rape. No one is above the law.”
In common law jurisdictions, statutory rape is non-forcible sexual activity in which one of the individuals is below the age of consent or the age required to legally consent to the behaviour.
Current Philippine laws provide that sexual intercourse with children below 12 years old is illegal and tantamount to rape.
In addition, sexual activity with a person below 18 years of age may constitute child abuse and exploitation.
However, Rep. Romualdez noted that the current age for determining the crime of statutory rape is not compliant with the international average, as evidenced by a 2015 report released by the United Nations International Children’s Fund East Asia and Pacific Region.
“In fact, the same study revealed that the age of sexual consent in the Philippine is the lowest in the Southeast Asian Region,” she said.
“The establishment of a minimum age of sexual content is a critical component in shielding minors from sexual violence. Minors who are below 16 years old are still considered without power to resist to give their genuine and fully informed consent to any sexual activity.”
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