Child brides will be relics of the past after the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading House Bill 9943 which prohibits the practice of child marriage and imposes penalties for violations thereof.
Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, principal of the bill together with Reps. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Alfred Vargas, Ma. Lourdes Acosta-Alba, Josephine Lacson-Noel, Joy Myrna S. Tambunting, and Eduardo “Bro. Eddie” C. Villanueva, among many others, said that the United Nations World Population Prospect ranks the Philippines as the 10th country with the highest absolute number of child marriages at 808,000 in 2019.
“The country’s adverse situation is due to the practice of child marriage by Filipino Muslims and indigenous peoples, in addition to co-habitations outside wedlock or illicit live-in unions involving adult men and young girls, which the bill now proscribes”, Lagman added.
According to Lagman, the following are the deleterious effects of child marriage:
It vitiates marital consent because either or both the child bride or groom are underage to give valid consent;
It violates the human rights of children under international conventions and domestic laws;
It compromises the child bride’s maternal health and her infant’s health and development outcomes;
It exposes the child bride to economic vulnerabilities as she is deprived of completing her education, attaining adequate work skills, and securing remunerative employment; and
It perpetuates intergenerational poverty.
Lagman also explained that the concept of “child marriage” must be revised to include co-habitations outside of wedlock between children, and between adult men and underage girls because they have the same adverse consequences of child marriages.
Enactment of the enabling law is assured because the Senate has already approved its counterpart bill prohibiting child marriage.
Lagman also said that during the bicameral conference between the House and the Senate, a short transition period may be qualifiedly granted to Muslim communities to subsequently fully abide with the ban on child marriage.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN