Save the Children Philippines lauds the enactment of Republic Act 11648 or the Act Raising the Age of Sexual Consent, which increases the age of statutory rape from 12 to 16. This recognizes children’s right to and need for protection from sexual abuse and exploitation.
According to the country’s National Baseline Study on Violence against Children (Council for the Welfare of Children, 2016), 1 out of 4 Filipino children experience some form of sexual violence with children aged 13-17 experiencing the most sexual violence. Majority of the victims of rape are children aged 13-15 according to the Philippine Commission on Women. By raising the age of sexual consent, we are casting a wider net to protect more children from being sexually abused and exploited, especially by adults.
With the passage of this law, the Philippines as State Party complies with the recommendations of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to increase the age of sexual consent, and thereby, addressing the limitation of the Anti-Rape Law of 1997 in addressing statutory rape.
Save the Children, however, recognizes that the passage of this law is just the beginning of a stronger advocacy for the protection of children from all forms of violence. We call on the Philippine government for stronger implementation of all child protection related laws and policies, particularly at the community level. This will help to ensure that violence against children is prevented, and properly addressed should this happen. This can start by ensuring that all local government officials and other stakeholders understand these laws and policies, and what their roles and responsibilities are in implementing these so they can fulfill their obligations to protect all children in their communities. These laws and policies should also be translated into actual child protection related programs, projects, and activities that are included in local development plans and budgets. These should particularly include investments in prevention activities, readily-available and accessible services, and adequate and capacitated human resources to deliver the services.
Save the Children Philippines Chief Executive Officer, Atty. Alberto Muyot said:
“While we celebrate the enactment of RA 11648, we enjoin families and all sectors of society to remain vigilant and continue to work together to protect children from all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation.”