The Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill or House Bill 9943 was approved on the third and final reading on Monday 6 September 2021. Plan International Philippines commends lawmakers on their strong support for the bill with 196 affirmative votes and 2 abstentions, in the House of Representatives.
The Prohibition of Child Marriage Bill seeks to protect children by prohibiting the practice of child marriage and declaring child marriage as illegal and imposing penalties for violations. The measure mandates the government to implement enabling policies and programmes towards an environment where child marriage shall not thrive. This includes girls’ empowerment programmes, increased access to quality education, economic support for children and their families, and application of interventions to empower parents and community leaders against the practice.
Child marriage is still prevalent in the country. Globally, the Philippines ranks 12th in the absolute number of child marriages, and 1 in 6 Filipino girls get married before they turn 18. The recent approval at the House of Representatives, along with the Senate approval of a counterpart measure in November 2020, is a step towards eradicating child marriage in the Philippines.
We are eager to continue working on a multi-sectoral approach with our partners to fully implement the law.
Programmes and research conducted by Plan International show that there are many complex and interrelated drivers and consequences of child marriage. Many of which are rooted in gender inequalities and harmful gender norms that devalue women and girls, normalise gender-based violence, and perpetuate patriarchal ideas on control of women and girls’ sexuality.
Plan International Philippines believes that a strong legal framework toward ending child marriage is essential if the practice is to be eradicated. There is more work to be done in addressing the root causes of child marriage in addition to strengthened laws and policies. The organisation strongly recommends programmes with more focus on gender issues and children’s welfare and rights coupled with campaigns that will help communities adapt to the new law, and strong collaboration across different sectors including engagement with families, communities, traditional, religious and cultural leaders.
The passing of this landmark legislation will be the first step in reclaiming the space with women and children who have been forced into marriage.
“We are eager to continue working on a multi-sectoral approach with our partners to fully implement the law and ensure a comprehensive and holistic response towards eradicating child marriage,” said Ana Maria Locsin, Country Director of Plan International Philippines.
Plan International continually works closely with partners and communities in Occidental Mindoro and BARMM, on programmes to advance children’s rights and equality for girls both in development and humanitarian settings. The organisation will continue working in these areas to specifically address the needs of the Muslim community and the indigenous peoples communities, and ensure proper support in the transition towards implementing the law.
Congress will convene a Bicameral Conference Committee hearing to align on all provisions of the bill before submitting it to the Office of the President for action. Plan International Philippines strongly calls for support toward the immediate signing of the bill into law.
“The passing of this landmark legislation will be the first step in reclaiming the space with women and children who have been forced into marriage. Let us solidify our commitment to ensure that every child is protected,” said Locsin.
Communications Specialist, Plan International Philippines