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For as long as the country has had an age of sexual consent, it has been fixed at 12, among the lowest in the world see chart. Enjoy more audio and podcasts on iOS or Android.
The Philippines is a deeply religious, largely Catholic country. It remains the only place in the world, other than the Vatican, where divorce is illegal except for Muslim Filipinos.
The low age of consent is not a of sexual liberalism, but the reverse: it is a holdover from the patriarchal mores instilled by Spanish colonialists, who had little compunction about men marrying young girls. Campaigners see a link between the age of consent and the many sexual horrors suffered by Filipino children. More rapes are committed against children than adult women. Roughly one child in five has experienced sexual abuse of some sort. The abuse of children for dissemination online has grown rapidly recently, especially during covid-related lockdowns last year. Pressure groups for children have long campaigned to raise the age of consent, as a simple way Sex philippines com combat all this.
It would mean that sex with young teens was illegal by definition, making rape much easier to prosecute. It would also spare children the trauma of cross-examination in a courtroom, the prospect of which discourages many victims from coming forward, says Sex philippines com Muyot of Save the Children Philippines, a charity. And since parents or relatives often play a part in the sexual exploitation of children, it would allow the authorities to charge the perpetrators even when the victim did not want to.
After years of shilly-shallying, politicians are at last taking the idea seriously. In December the House of Representatives passed a bill raising the age of consent to 16, by Sex philippines com vote of A similar bill is making its way through the Senate. The president, Rodrigo Duterte, who will also have to approve any reform, is not expected to object.
He claims to have been abused by a priest as himself. Congress had shrugged off attempts to raise the age of consent on the ground that the country already had laws to deal with sexual abuse. But the legislators leading the current effort, says Bernadette Madrid, who runs the Child Protection Unit at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, have young children of their own. What is more, the internet seems to be exacerbating the problem.
In some five in every 10, Filipino internet addresses were used for child sex abuse, according to International Justice Mission, a Christian charity. By that proportion had jumped to An analysis of cases of possible online abuse referred to authorities abroad by American, British, Canadian and Nordic law-enforcement agencies between and found that the Philippines received nearly nine times as many referrals as the second-ranked country, Mexico, and 47 times as many as the next South-East Asian country, Thailand.
The factors that contribute to this state of affairs are normally seen as reasons to be optimistic about the Philippine economy. English is widely spoken, enabling easy communication with the outside world. Internet access is widespread and inexpensive. Widespread poverty and a lack of opportunity outside the big cities, meanwhile, provide an incentive for online abuse. Raising the age of consent is only the beginning, campaigners say. This article appeared in the Asia section of the print edition under the headline "Sex with year-olds".
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Trafficking in Persons Report: Philippines