‘Girls not brides:’ Senate OKs on final reading bill declaring child marriages illegal
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate approved on third and final reading on Monday a measure declaring child marriages as illegal.
Voting 21-0, the chamber approved Senate Bill No. 1373 or the proposed Girls Not Brides Act.
“The issue of child, early and forced marriages is one that is largely invisible to us here in Metro Manila, but it is a tragic reality for scores of young girls who are forced by economic circumstances and cultural expectations to shelve their own dreams. begin families they are not ready for, and raise children even when their own childhoods have not yet ended,” Senator Risa Hontiveros, sponsor of the bill, said.
“Today we give our girls a chance to dream, a chance to define their future according to their own terms. We defend their right to declare when they are ready to begin their families. We tell them their health matters to us, their education matters to us. We give them a fighting shot,” she added.
The bill defines child marriage as “any marriage entered into where one or both parties are children as defined in the paragraph above, and solemnized in civil or church proceedings, or in any recognized traditional, cultural or customary manner.”
Under the measure, child marriage would be considered a “public crime.”
If enacted into law, a person who causes, fixes, facilitates, or arranges a child marriage shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period and a fine of not less than P40,000.
Should the perpetrator be an ascendant, step-parent, or guardian of the minor, the penalty will constitute a 12-year jail time, a fine of not less than P50,000, and the loss of parental authority over the same.
Meanwhile, individuals who perform or officiate the formal rites of child marriage shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period and a fine of not less than P40,000. If they are public officers, they will also be perpetually disqualified from office.
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