The Philippines’ House of Senate has approved the final reading of a bill that would raise the minimum age of sexual consent from 12 to 16.
The bill which aims to protect children from rape and other forms of sexual abuse was backed by 22 senators on Monday (Sept. 27), with one abstention. A counterpart measure was approved by the House of Congress in December 2020.
“Today, the senate has finally and clearly said no to child rape. Today, the senate has sounded the clarion call for change,” Senator Risa Hontiveros, the principal author of the bill, said in a statement.
A bicameral committee must now consolidate the two drafts and pass it to the president for approval.
The Philippines currently has the lowest minimum age of sexual consent in Southeast Asia, and one of the lowest in the world.
Seven of 10 victims of rape in the Philippines are children, data from the Center for Women’s Resources show.
Under the bill, any adult, both men and women, engaging in sexual contact with anyone 16 years old or lower would be committing statutory rape. For more than a century, the minimum age has been 12. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)