Philippines

Plan International Philippines commends House approval of Bill to Prohibit Child Marriage

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Further calls for support and a multi-sectoral and coordinated approach to the future implementation of the law

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill or House Bill 9943 was approved on the third and final reading on Monday, 06 September 2021. Plan International Philippines commends lawmakers on their strong support for the bill with 196 affirmative votes and 2 abstentions, in the House of Representatives.

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill seeks to protect children by prohibiting the practice of child marriage and declaring child marriage as illegal and imposing penalties for violations. The measure mandates the government to implement enabling policies and programs towards an environment where child marriage shall not thrive. This includes girls’ empowerment programs, increased access to quality education, economic support for children and their families, and application of interventions to empower parents and community leaders against the practice.

Child marriage is still prevalent in the country. Globally, the Philippines ranks 12th in the absolute number of child marriages, and 1 in 6 Filipino girls get married before they turn 18.The recent approval at the House of Representatives, along with the Senate approval of a counterpart measure in November 2020, is a step towards eradicating child marriage in the Philippines.

“Child marriage is a harmful practice that can cause lasting impact throughout the lives of both girls and boys. It deprives them of the right to be free from violence, the right to education, and sexual and reproductive health and rights.” says Plan International Philippines Country Director,
Ana Maria Locsin. “It is our duty to ensure the welfare of all children, free from early and forced marriage. We thank all of the lawmakers, leaders, and advocates for making this happen.”

Programs and research conducted by Plan International show that there are many complex and interrelated drivers and consequences of child marriage. Many of which are rooted in gender inequalities and harmful gender norms that devalue women and girls, normalize gender-based violence, and perpetuate patriarchal ideas on control of women and girls’ sexuality.

Plan International Philippines believes that a strong legal framework toward ending child marriage is essential if the practice is to be eradicated. There is more work to be done in addressing the root causes of child marriage in addition to strengthened laws and policies. The organization strongly recommends programs with more focus on gender issues and children’s welfare and rights coupled with campaigns that will help communities adapt to the new law, and strong collaboration across different sectors including engagement with families, communities, traditional, religious and cultural leaders.

“We are eager to continue working on a multi-sectoral approach with our partners to fully implement the law and ensure a comprehensive and holistic response towards eradicating child marriage,” said Locsin.

Plan International continually works closely with partners and communities in Occidental Mindoro and BARMM, on programs to advance children’s rights and equality for girls both in development and humanitarian settings. The organization will continue working in these areas to specifically address the needs of the Muslim community and the indigenous peoples communities, and ensure proper support in the transition towards implementing the law.

Congress will convene a Bicameral Conference Committee hearing to align on all provisions of the bill before submitting it to the Office of the President for action. Plan International Philippines strongly calls for support toward the immediate signing of the bill into law.

“The passing of this landmark legislation will be the first step in reclaiming the space with women and children who have been forced into marriage. Let us solidify our commitment to ensure that every child is protected” said Locsin.

About Plan International

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners, we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children.

We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and are now active in more than 75 countries. We have been working in the Philippines since 1961.

Our Country Office is located in Makati City, with programme and project areas in Metro Manila, Occidental Mindoro, North Samar, West Samar, East Samar, Southern Leyte, Central Mindanao, and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Website: plan-international.org/philippines Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @planphilippines

Media Contact:
Kassandra Barnes
Communications Specialist, Plan International Philippines
Email: kass.barnes@plan-international.org
Phone: +63 917 728 7961