THE age of consent in the Philippines is 12 years old. At this age, many children don’t even know what to do for school and let alone they are expected to make fully conscious sexual decisions. It is because of this outdated, primitive law that the country has seen a massive surge in teenage pregnancies: According to NewsDeeply, “Every hour, 24 babies are born to teenage mothers; that’s 500 every day.” Do some quick calculations and that’s almost 200,000 babies born to teenage mothers annually.
Additionally, some will argue that it is because of the faults of sex education within the country that has resolved to this situation: that, because teachers were unable to “educate” children on the right means and conditions to have sex, they have started proliferating their sexual activity. Others will say that it is a lack of discipline and guidance from their families.
It’s as if we are assuming that teenagers are creatures to be tamed and whipped into abstinence and sexual awareness. This mindset not only predates the status quo of the 21st century but is completely ignorant of the true nature of teenage life.
It’s easy to forget, as an adult, the sheer surge of hormones that occurs throughout adolescence. Thus, many adults can assume a moral pedestal and wrongly detest teenagers for their actions. But, as a teenager myself, this mentality has to be changed. If adults expect us to respect them (as with every society) some mutual reciprocation must occur. We need to build up a mutual empathic relationship to better understand the dire situation at hand.
Ultimately, the biggest solution is to practice the use of contraception. I understand that Philippine history and government is deeply rooted in Catholicism, but we can no longer tolerate the outdated beliefs of having safe sex. Dig deeper into the roots of the country, and one can see that Roman Catholicism was actually a by-product of the Spanish invasion of the nation from the previous century. Spanish priests forced Pinoys to convert into their Christianity, integrating aspects of Christianity into the native religion and belief system.
Now, in retrospect, the country is believing in these so-called “laws” that were indirectly administered by the Spaniards and quoting God as justification for these acts. Not only does this show a lack of historical understanding within the nation, but it shows an inability to accept the fact that contraception is actually valid.
Even more so, using the religious argument, what type of God would happily accept teenage mothers who are unable to raise children? What type of God would condemn something that could prevent immorality like a teenage mother giving birth to a child, when the child will end up in a subpar and downtrodden life?
God is love. Love entails that children can grow up in a healthy environment. Love entails that we understand that teenagers are surging with hormones and allowing them to exert such tendencies in a safe manner. We are all sexual creatures and the more we pretend that we can be righteous, the deeper into superficiality we submerge. The further away from God we stand.
Our country needs to step up to create an environment where we can curb the overwhelming threat of teenage pregnancies. Accepting and destigmatizing contraception is the first step to do so.