CHR lauds passage of law protecting kids from rape

THE Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has lauded the passage of a law expanding the protection of minors against sexual abuse.

The commission cited Republic Act (RA) No. 11648 or an act “providing for stronger protection against rape and sexual exploitation and abuse, increasing the age for determining the commission of statutory rape.”

This is a significant step in protecting children from sexual violence and affording them better access to justice regardless of their gender and sexual identity, according to the CHR.

Prior to the passage of this law, the Philippines had the lowest age to determine statutory rape in Asia and second lowest in the world next to Nigeria at 11 years old, the agency added.

The CHR said Filipino children have been prone to sexual abuse and exploitation due to the prior low age of sexual consent.

According to a study by the United Nations Children's Fund or Unicef, one out of five Filipino children experience sexual abuse.

The commission said raising the age of determining the commission of statutory rape shifts the burden of responsibility towards the perpetrators and potential assaulters.

RA 11648 can help address the reality that the burden is defaulted to vulnerable and innocent children in many cases of sexual abuse, the CHR said.

"This is evident in the prevalence of victim blaming, revictimization, rape myths, and stereotype, which contribute to a culture of silence and fear," it said.

The law can also help gradually erode the culture of silence that enables perpetrators while improving access to justice of victims, according to the commission.

Considering the evolving forms of sexual exploitation, which includes online sexual exploitation, the law can also help deter perpetrators from preying on young ones, it added.

The CHR said the harm suffered by young victims of sexual abuse can stay with them through adulthood.

"It causes grave disruption to their well-being and development that may lead them to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms thus destroying their future," the CHR said.

Having a law that protects young ones while helping deter abusers is essential in creating an environment that ensures the welfare and dignity of children, according to the commission.

CHR expresses gratitude to the Chief Executive, members of Congress, government agencies, civil society organizations, and all individuals who help made this law into a reality.

"Let us continue to translate our primordial obligation to uphold children's rights into concrete efforts that will protect them from harm and ensure their proper development," the commission said.

"Our children deserve to march into the future with hope and dignity, not burdened with scars and trauma due to sexual abuse and violence," it added.


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