De Lima bill raises statutory age of rape to 18
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima has filed a bill seeking to raise the age of sexual consent to 18 years old to protect young people from exploitation and abuse.
De Lima filed Senate Bill 1949 on Tuesday, August 28, in a bid to amend Republic Act 8353 or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997.
De Lima said putting the age of consent on the same level as the age of majority would protect “the innocence of the youth, prevent sexual predators from deflowering children, and finally put premium on the virtue of hope of this nation.”
“In increasing the age of consent to 18 years old, the State is sending a message – loud and clear – the youth will be protected by all means and at all costs,” De Lima said.
RA 8353 sets the age of sexual consent to 12 years old. This means 12-year-old rape victims have to go through court hearings to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they were sexually abused.
Citing the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), De Lima said the Philippines’ current age of sexual consent is alarming, as it is one of the lowest in the world and in the region.
De Lima said a 12-year-old has only reached his or her 6th grade, has barely gone through puberty, and lacks sex education.
“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 blindfold in a tunnel of mazes,” she said.
The House counterpart measure is still pending at the committee level.
The Child Rights Network earlier initiated an online petition addressed to the House and the Senate, seeking to raise the age in determining statutory rape.
"Sexual intercourse with a child as young as 12 is NOT automatically considered as child rape. We have seen countless of cases reporting sexual predators and watching the victim recount the incident. Imagine how difficult it would be to watch a 12-year-old do it," the petition read.
"Victims of child rape experience stress and trauma that are beyond their emotional capability. In 2016, the Department of Social Welfare and Development reported that there are more than 2,000 cases of child abuse reported. One-fourth of these cases are sexual abuse. Even with various policies in place to prevent child rape in the Philippines, child rape incidence continues to increase," it added.
Citing Philippine National Police data, De Lima said Davao City – the hometown of her political nemesis, President Rodrigo Duterte – has the highest number of rape cases nationwide, registering a 42 rape cases during the 2nd quarter of 2018.
This, she said, was followed by Quezon City, with 41 cases; Manila, 32; Cagayan de Oro, 24, and Zamboanga City, with 21 cases.– Rappler.com
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