Groups urge stronger efforts to end child marriage in PH

Anti-child marriage advocates in the Philippines urged stronger efforts to implement the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law a year after the passage of the milestone legislation.

As part of their commemoration of the International Day of the Girl last Wednesday, October 11, Oxfam Pilipinas and the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD) said there is a need to increase government and civil society initiatives to end violence against women and girls, children and forced early marriage.

 “[M]ay we be reminded that each day that passes that Republic Act 11596 or the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law is not fully implemented, is a lost opportunity in keeping girls safe and empowering them to reach their full potentials,” PLCPD executive director Rom Dongeto said.

The Philippines made child marriage illegal with the law’s passage in January 2022, an achievement described by Gabriela Representative and Assistant Minority Leader Arlene Brosas, co-author of the law, as a “historic step” towards the criminalization of child marriage

The 2017 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey said 1 in 6 Filipino girls are married before they are 18 years old or the legal age of majority.

Every year, at least 12 million girls around the world are married before they turn 18, Oxfam Philippines added.

Despite the legislative breakthrough and the approval of its implementing rules and regulations, however, Oxfam Philippines and the PLCPD said the public’s understanding of the law still needs improvement.

“We cannot simply watch when a young girl’s chance to education and her right to make her own choices are affected. We must counter the spread of harmful norms and nurture well-informed communities that will collectively uphold the rights of every young Filipino girl,” Oxfam Pilipinas Executive Director Erika Geronimo said.

Dongeto noted that ending child marriage requires confronting long-existing norms and behavior change, adding the law’s implementation that institutionalize prevention programs is as important as its prohibitions.

Oxfam Pilipinas and PLCPD said they are implementing an education and information project to strengthen the capacity of both government and civil society organizations to help the law succeed in the country. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

OBR Philippines 2022 calls for women rights and security

One Billion Rising (OBR), the global campaign against violence against women, celebrated its 10th year in the Philippines with more dances, poetry and songs at the Commission on Human Rights grounds on Valentine’s Day yesterday, February 14.

Attended by hundreds of participants, OBR 2022 urged communities worldwide to utilize arts and activism as a creative form of resistance to violence against women and girls.

OBR global director and renowned stage actor Monique Wilson said this year’s OBR sought to shine a light on “the rampant impunity and injustice that survivors (of violence) most often face.”

Women’s group Gabriela secretary general Joms Salvador said OBR 2022 was held against a backdrop of record-breaking economic crises.

“[W]omen are left to fend with extreme unemployment, inflation of (prices) basic goods, oil and utilities, an ensuing pandemic and intensifying acts of violence and human rights violations against women,” Salvador said.

“[N]ow more than ever, we must rise to defend the rights and security of Filipino women,” she added.

OBR 2022 called for rights and security for women and girls. (Sanafe Marcelo/Kodao)

Salvador also cited the country’s dire political situation as contributors to women’s insecurity, including the junking of disqualification petitions against the candidacy of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for the presidency in the elections in May.

“We women now face a battle for our lives as we risk a return to the dark, bloody history of Marcosian rule and, with it, the perpetuation of the murderous (Rodrigo) Duterte brand of leadership, both of which had claimed the lives of thousands of women who dared speak truth to power,” Salvador said.

Gabriela distributed red roses at the event in remembrance of the women victims of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s martial and the “tyrannical, misogynistic Duterte regime.”

First held in 2013, OBR Philippines is one of 75 such event worldwide.

OBR was created by playwright Eve Ensler most popular for her play The Vagina Monologues.

OBR 2022 was attended by Senate aspirants Neri Colmenares and Elmer Labog as well as Kabataan Party Rep. Sarah Elago, Bayan Muna Reps. Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat and Gabriela Women’s Party Arlene Brosas. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)