Press Release
August 6, 2019


Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, who is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality in the 18th Congress, announced on Tuesday that she filed a bill seeking the eradication of child marriages in the Philippines.

Senate Bill 162 or the "Girls not Brides Act of 2019," aims to protect children by prohibiting and penalizing child marriages. The bill states that facilitation, solemnization or participation in child marriages is a public crime, and will be considered a violation of Section 10 of the Republic Act No. 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act, with the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and fees up to 50,000 pesos.

Hontiveros said that the Philippines ranks no. 12 in the number of child brides in the world, with an estimated 726,000 in the country.

She cited a UNICEF study which said that 15% of Filipino girls are married before their 18th birthday, with 2% married before 15 years old. She mentioned reports that some of the child brides were discovered to have entered marriage through commercial sex and trafficking, as well as the infamous mail-order bride industry.

The Senator also said that in violence-ridden areas like Marawi, child marriages are spiking because of the economic constraints felt in the area. According to Hontiveros, these children are "married off as economic exchanges."

"This is wrong on so many levels. Child marriage is a human rights violation as it undermines the wellbeing of girls and impedes their personal development. Many will likely end up in poverty as child brides will have limited education and economic opportunities," Hontiveros explained.

Hontiveros also said that child brides are also not physically and emotionally ready to become wives and even mothers. "They also face greater health risks from dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, contracting HIV/AIDS and suffering domestic violence," she said.

"Let our children be children. Let us allow them to grow and fulfill their full potential. Let us end child marriages," Hontiveros said.

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