Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros announced that she filed Senate Bill No.163, or the “Raising the Age of Sexual Consent” Act.

Hontiveros, who is the Chairperson of the Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality in the 18th Congress, said that her bill seeks to raise the age of sexual consent from the current 12 years old to 18 years. This is to conform with the current legal age in the country. All sexual acts with minors will be treated as statutory rape.

“Our age of sexual consent is the lowest threshold in the world,” Hontiveros stressed. “The Convention on the Rights of the Child is explicit that State Parties should protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse. The Philippines as a state party is bound by this requirement. Our current policies make this heinous crime permissible. When justice is sought out, our current law bars it from being served. Little can be done because the law stands in the way.”

Hontiveros cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, stating that there were 4,605 cases of rape in 2018 alone. “It is a horrific reality we create and are compelled to confront. According to the United Nations, only 1 out of 10 cases of abuse is reported, so the number of cases is more overwhelming and appalling than the current statistics reveal. A rapidly increasing number of heinous crimes has been made permissible by the law we fail to amend and strengthen,” Hontiveros said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported that 804 cases of child rape and 141 cases of child exploitation were filed in 2018. Hontiveros emphasized that adults accused of raping minors above the age of 12 years old cannot presently be charged with statutory rape.

“For every hour that we do not pass this bill, another child’s future is put on the line. If we can repair this law, we can prevently repair the road of millions of children’s lives in the future,” Hontiveros said.

Photo Credit: facebook.com/hontiverosrisa