Quezon City – Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns welcomed the recent move of congress to approve on 2nd reading the bill intended to increase the age of statutory rape from 12 to 16 years old.
“Salinlahi believes the urgency of its passage into law under the current situation that exacerbates children’s vulnerability to sexual abuses and violence such as rape. We have been witnessing an increasing number of young children who have been sexually abused and assaulted while our existing laws and measures fail to put these sexual predators behind bars,” said Eule Rico Bonganay, Salinlahi Secretary General.
According to Bonganay, the Philippine government, as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), is tasked to embrace its commitment to the said treaty upholding the rights of the Filipino children – especially in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic that has placed children in a situation more vulnerable to abuse.
“Children’s vulnerability to abuses and violence has been further highlighted with the reported increase of incest cases during the imposition of extended community lockdowns. Such vulnerability has doubled exponentially as families face increased hunger, poverty, socio-economic and psychosocial instability,” Bonganay added.
Bonganay emphasized that it is important to note that the lack of consent is presumed especially among minors. “We must recognize that a 12 year old child cannot in any way properly discern abuse and consequently cannot adequately defend herself or himself from such. Cultural stigma also awaits those who report or disclose sexual violence or abuse,” he stressed.
“Except from the actual physical bruises that might heal in time, abuse to children leaves them a more serious injury that would take a lifetime for them if not addressed properly,” said Bonganay adding that child abuse and violence may affect all domains of development – physical, psychological, emotional, behavioral, and social – all of which are interrelated.
Aside from immediately passing the proposed measure into law, Bonganay urged the congress and other government agencies to seriously address problems that hinder children victims from seeking justice including the lack of access to criminal justice system, weak law enforcement, low conviction rate on cases of child sexual abuse and violence, lack of services to victims, among others.
Moreover, Bonganay reiterated the call to end the culture of violence, rape, sexism and any prevailing culture that views women and children as sex objects or commodity. ###