International humanitarian and development organization Oxfam joins the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD)’s commendation of the signing into law of Republic Act (RA) No. 11596, also known as “An Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage and Imposing Penalties for Violations Thereof”.
“After years of advocacy and lobbying, we finally achieved a historic win. Banning child, early, and forced marriage will give women and girls the power to make free and informed choices, enabling them to break free from the unending cycle of poverty, violence, and inequality. We commend our brave champions in the Senate and in the House of Representatives – Senator Risa Hontiveros, Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera, Rep. Edcel Lagman, and Rep. Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba – for tirelessly working for this historic legislation,” said Oxfam Pilipinas Country Director Lot Felizco.
RA No. 11596 was signed into law on 10 December 2021, closing the legal loopholes that used to enable child marriage in the country. Perpetrators who participate and perform child marriage will warrant punishment such as imprisonment of up to 12 years, loss of child custody, and fines of not less than Php 40,000.00.
“But this does not mean that our work is done. A multi-sectoral and coordinated implementation approach is critical to ensure this harmful practice ceases. We need to keep working together to ensure a safer and more equal future for Filipino children,” Felizco added.
Noraida Abo, Executive Director of UnYPhil-Women, a women’s organization based in Lanao del Sur, spotlighted the need for the Bangsamoro leadership to support the law.
“Ending child, early and forced (CEFM) marriage is a huge win for the future of our Bangsamoro children. We are one step closer to achieving our goal where we put an end to Bangsamoro children having children,” Abo added.
Oxfam is part of the “Girl Defenders” alliance, which has been advocating the end of child marriage. The alliance includes lawmakers, youth campaigners, women’s rights organizations, and government agencies including the Commission on Human Rights, Philippine Commission on Women, United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women), Maguindanao Alliance of Youth Advocates (MAYA), and PLCPD.
In Maguindanao, youth organization MAYA has been teaching young people in their community about the impacts of child, early, and forced marriages.
“We cannot deny that these issues are close to home, both in our communities and schools. The fight against child marriage is not an overnight success. We are doing this for the next generation,” said Juanday Farhana, co-founder of MAYA.
“The Prohibition of Child Marriage Law is a landmark legislation and a legacy of this Congress to women and girls who have long been suffering from the ill effects of child marriage. We also salute #GirlDefenders, especially youth advocates from BARMM, who fearlessly stood up for their generation – the generation that will end child marriage in the Philippines,” said Rom Dongeto, Executive Director of PLCPD, lead of the #GirlDefenders Alliance.
The Philippines ranks 12th worldwide among countries with the highest numbers of child marriages. One in six Filipino girls get married before they turn 18.
The ‘Girl Defenders’ campaign is supported by the project Creating Space to Take Action on Violence Against Women and Girls jointly implemented by the Almujadilah Women’s Association (AMWA), United Youth of the Philippines-Women (UnYPhil-Women), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) with support from Oxfam and Global Affairs Canada.
FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES AND COORDINATION:
Kristine Sabillo Guerrero | Senior Officer for Media and Digital Influencing, Oxfam Pilipinas | Email: kGuerrero@oxfam.org.uk