Why You Should Support Senate Bill No. 1373

Posted by Javan Poblador | Posted on November 16, 2020

Why You Should Support Senate Bill No. 1373

by Joshua Villalobos
Bacolod City

 

Why You Should Support Senate Bill No. 1373

On Sunday, TV news magazine program Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho featured a 13-year old girl married to a 48-year old grown-up man in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. 

Why You Should Support Senate Bill No. 1373
(photo from Kapuso Mo, Jessica Sojo)

To paint it visually, the “marriage” is between a child who has just started her menstrual period and a man who is halfway his andropause.

While we thought it is not allowed common sensically (because, hey! It’s 2020), unfortunately, there are cultures worldwide that allow and enable this practice, including in some areas in the Philippines. 

Child marriages by the numbers

15% of Filipino girls are married before they reached the age of 18, while 2% have been tied forever before their 15th birthday, according to the National Demographic and Health Survey in 2013.

While child marriages are invisible in Metro Manila, it is a tragic reality for some women who are forced by “economic circumstance and cultural expectations,” said the Senate Bill author and sponsor Sen. Risa Hontiveros after casting her vote on the measure.

During the same year, the Philippine Statistics Authority recorded that 12.2% of all registered marriages in the country involve brides aged 15-19.

“That means that in one year alone, 53,997 marriages had teenage brides,” said Bagong Henerasyon Representative Bernadette Herrera, who is pushing the same measure in the lower house.

Based on the data by UNICEF, the UN’s lead agency on children’s welfare, the Philippines ranked as the 12th country with most child marriage with a staggering 726,000 cases.

What is Senate Bill 1373?

Senate Bill 1373 or the “Girls not Brides” act is a piece of legislation that aims to prohibit marriages between two minors or between an adult and a minor in the Philippines.

It will penalize any person who causes, fixes or facilitates a child marriage. Under the proposed measure, offenders shall suffer prision mayor in its medium period and be fined not less than P40,000. 

It also mandates that there shall be comprehensive programs and services to be created by the Department of Social Welfare and Development in coordination with local governments to make sure that ensure holistic support and development for children.

If passed in the Congress and signed by the President, the law will criminalize child marriages around the country.

Why should you support it?

“It (child marriage) denies them of their childhood, disrupts their education, and limits their opportunities. Married girls or child brides have increased risk of violence and abuse as well as life-threatening consequences on health,” Herrera argued before her fellow congressperson.

“I can’t believe that child marriages still exist today. It is just gross,” laments Marissa Torres-Langseth, the chairwoman emeritus of Humanist Alliance Philippines, International.

She also added that the practice is archaic and must be put to stop if we want a developed Philippines, and we should empower young women in rural areas to reach their full potential.

As a retired nurse practitioner in the United States, Langseth also noted that young girls are biologically incapable of bearing a child or engage in sexual intercourse.

While the measure is already passed in Senate for the third and final reading, its counterpart in the lower house, the House Bill 8400, is still pending.

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About The Author

Joshua Villalobos

Joshua is a sociology freshman at Silliman University. He usually writes about social and political issues. HAPI Scholar.

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