Anti-child marriage law draws approval from int’l aid groups to underground revolutionary orgs

Children rights advocates of various persuasions hailed the passage of the law banning child marriages in the Philippines, describing the measure as a step forward in protecting children from sexual abuse and the effects of child marriage.

In separate statements, a women’s political party, an international aid organization, a legislators’ committee, even an underground revolutionary group hailed the signing into law of Republic Act (RA) No. 11596, also known as “An Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage and Imposing Penalties for Violations Thereof.”

House of Representatives (HOR) Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas welcomed the new law she says ensures stronger protection of children from abuse and early social and economic burden.

“This is a historic step towards the criminalization of child marriage, which has trapped several Filipino girls into unwanted and early child-bearing and child-rearing responsibilities and even into cycles of abuse,” Brosas, co-author of the new law, said.

The government announced on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte signed the measure last December 10, International Human Rights Day.

The law bans any marriage involving children, including informal unions or cohabitation outside of wedlock between an adult and a child.

The law penalizes persons who cause child marriages with imprisonment and fines, including parents and those who officiates them.

Parents involved in the crime shall also suffer perpetual loss of parental authority.

The law likewise penalizes adults who cohabit with a child outside wedlock.

More praise

International humanitarian and development organization Oxfam commended the law’s champions in the HOR and Senate, saying its passage and approval by the President is a “historic win.”

“Banning child, early, and forced marriage will give women and girls the power to make free and informed choices, enabling them to break free from the unending cycle of poverty, violence, and inequality,” Oxfam said.

Even the underground regional revolutionary group National Democratic Front in Bicol (NDF-Bicol) hailed the new measure, saying it adds to the legal recourses female children may utilize in defense of their right to self-determination.

The victory contributes to the eventual defeat of the exploitative system that confine women’s roles to the household and bed, NDF-Bicol added.

Policy group Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), instrumental in pushing for the bill, said one in six Filipino girls get married before reaching the age of 18.

“The Philippines ranks 12th worldwide among countries with the highest numbers of child marriages,” PLCPD said.

 “The Prohibition of Child Marriage Law is a landmark legislation and a legacy of this Congress to women and girls who have long been suffering from the ill effects of child marriage,” PLCPD executive director Rom Dongeto said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

It’s Filipino Fathers’ Day every day in terms of household tasks, survey reveals

Fathers and husbands are celebrated today but Filipino men seem to always have it better, not just on Fathers’ Day but in the rest of the year as well.

Compared to Filipina mothers and wives, at least.

A survey commissioned by Oxfam Philippines revealed that while Filipino men log more care work hours during the coronavirus pandemic, the bulk of household tasks still fall on women.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing families to spend more time at home, Filipinas are still bearing the brunt of unpaid care work, according to the 2021 National Household Care Survey.

The survey reveals than when time spent on supervision of dependents is included, women spent up to 13 hours a day on unpaid care work compared to only eight hours for men. 

Oxfam Philippines graph.

More than half or seven out of the 13 hours spent by women on care work involves multi-taking or juggling at least two activities at the same time, the survey says.

On average, Filipino women spend an average of 6.5 hours a day with care work as their primary activity, it added.

This involves activities such as fetching water, doing laundry or taking care of sick family members.

This is almost three hours more than men who spend an average of less than three hours a day with care work as their primary activity.

It is actually an improvement of the 2017 situation when women spent 12 hours a day on care work while men spent only five hours on such tasks.

Still, Oxfam Philippines said things still need further improvement.

“[I]t is disappointing that there is still inequality at home and that the bulk of unpaid care work still falls on women,” Oxfam Philippines Resilience Portfolia Manager Leah Payud said.

“While the coverage of the two surveys is not exactly the same, it was expected that time spent on care work would increase for men, especially since many were forced to stay and even work at home,” Payud added.

Oxfam Philippines graph.

The survey was conducted from January to March of this year and involved interviews with 1,177 respondents from randomly sampled households in Cagayan, Metro Manila, Masbate, Eastern Samar, Cebu, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

Oxfam Philippines urged the private sector to contribute to improved workplace policies such as increased parental leaves, flexible work and employer-supporter childcare to encourage menfolk to take on more care work around the house.

“We’re hoping that more men, especially those from the younger generations, would start to take on care work and challenge social norms,” Payud said.

She said there is also a need for institutional changes such as legislation or policies that support the care economy.

“Hopefully, this will improve care-related services such as water systems, health care delivery, and day care services that will result in the redistribution of care tasks and recognition of the importance of care work for both men and women, Payud added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)