To mark this year’s global commemoration of International Day of the Girl, Oxfam Pilipinas and its partners reiterate their support for the implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law and caution against potential misinformation about its purpose.
Every year, at least 12 million girls around the world are married before they turn 18. According to the 2017 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey, one in every four women aged 15-49 have experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse from their spouse or partner and one in every six young Filipino women have been married before they turn 18.
Last year, advocates led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, celebrated the signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage (PCM) Law, a major milestone for the Philippines in its efforts to end Violence Against Women and Girls, and Child, Early and Forced Marriage.
Despite this legislative breakthrough, the group voiced out the need to strengthen government and civil society organizations’ efforts to improve understanding of the intentions of the law and its IRR to the public.
Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) Executive Director Rom Dongeto noted that while the PCM law is in effect, ending child marriage requires challenging long-existing norms and behavior change.
“As we celebrate the International Day of the Girl, may we be reminded that each day that passes that RA 11596 or the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law is not fully implemented, is a lost opportunity in keeping girls safe and empowering them to reach their full potentials.”Dongeto said.
PLCPD emphasizes that the implementation of provisions that institutionalize prevention programs is as equally important as the prohibition.
“We cannot simply watch when a young girl’s chance to education and her right to make her own choices are affected. We must counter the spread of harmful norms and nurture well-informed communities that will collectively uphold the rights of every young Filipino girl,” Oxfam Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Geronimo said.
The Girl Defenders Alliance, including Oxfam Pilipinas, youth advocates, and women’s rights organizations, earlier led the campaign for the passage of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law in the Philippines that criminalizes the facilitation and solemnization of child marriage.
The group also actively played a role in developing the IRR of the said law, which provides for the mandates of government agencies by establishing an enabling environment to prevent child marriage.
Geronimo also reiterated the importance of shifting towards more positive norms to achieve a world where every girl can build their dreams, make their own choices, and live free from all forms of violence, including child marriage.
Oxfam Pilipinas and PLCPD are implementing the project called Bridging the Information Gap on the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law in the Philippines and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (BIG PCM Law and its IRR) Project. The project aimed at strengthening the capacity of both the government and civil society organizations to respond to the information dissemination gap on the PCM Law and its IRR.