Law criminalizing child marriage removes religious, cultural exemption - author

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 07 2022 11:40 AM

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MANILA - The new law criminalizing and imposing penalties on child marriages covers the entire Philippines and removes religious and cultural exemptions, one of the authors said Friday.

Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy said while there has been earlier laws that prohibit marrying individuals below 18 years old, this is still prevalent in areas in Mindanao and other indigenous cultures.

"It’s in law already, but a lot of sectors still do not follow it. That’s why we felt the need to file a new law to specifically say that if you’re in the Philippines, no matter what culture or religion you belong to, you have to follow the law of the Philippines and you can’t marry anybody below 18 years old," she told ANC's Headstart.

Republic Act 11596 was signed last month and was released by Malacañang on Thursday. It outlined penalties and fines for persons who facilitate or arrange child marriages; those who perform or officiate the marriage; adult partners who cohabit with a child outside wedlock; and those who tamper with documents to misrepresent a child's age.

"Itong batas na ito, ginawa natin because there are some indigenous cultures that practice it regardless kung bawal o hindi sa ating bansa. Bawal naman sana siya sa Konstitusyon natin, pero…meron kasi tayong portion sa Family Code na somehow exempts them pati yung religious beliefs ng Muslim brothers and sisters natin," Herrera-Dy said.

"Kaya ginawan natin ng paraan para mawala na yung kahit anumang slim exemption para ma-observe yung batas na kahit anong kultura kayo, kahit anong religion kayo, bawal nang magpakasal ang below 18 years old," she added.

(We made this law because there are some indigenous cultures that practice it regardless if it's prohibited or not in our country. It's not allowed under the Constitution, but there is a portion in the Family Code that somehow exempts them and the religious beliefs of our Muslim brothers and sisters. That's why we made a way to remove whatever slim exemption to observe the law no matter the culture, religion, that no minor can marry.)

She said under the law, "anybody can rescue our minors from being subjected to this child abuse."