Passage of “Prohibition of Child Marriage Law” is a Major Milestone for Child Rights
Statement attributable to Ms. Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Representative
7 January 2022 - Amid the exacerbation of child rights issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by the onslaught caused by Typhoon Odette (Rai), UNICEF Philippines celebrates a major milestone in child rights – the passage of Republic Act No. 11596 or the “Prohibition of Child Marriage Law.”
According to the 2017 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey, 1 in 6 Filipino girls are married before they are 18 years old or the legal age of majority. The phenomenon of child marriage has been seen to have been practiced in indigenous and Muslim communities in the country. Globally, the Philippines ranks 12th in the absolute number of child marriages. While these communities have been trying to address this issue through community-based programmes, passing a legislation strengthens the legal framework and protection for our young children and underscores the commitment of the Government as a State Party to fully implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The profound effects of the pandemic, including school closures, economic shocks, and interruption of vital health services, have had direct impacts on teenage pregnancy and subsequently, child marriage. With the passing and enactment of this new law, another layer of protection, which will also yield lasting benefits for children, especially girls, is secured.
Child marriage is a human rights violation that can result in a lifetime of suffering not just for young girls but for their children as well. Girls who marry before turning 18 are less likely to remain in school and more likely to experience domestic violence and abuse. Compared to women in their 20s, they are also more likely to die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. If they survive pregnancy and childbirth, the likelihood of their infants to be stillborn or die in the first month of life is quite high.
We laud the Philippine Government for passing this very important law. Together with the Child Rights Network and all other child rights organizations and advocates in the country, we at UNICEF will remain committed in ensuring the stringent enactment of this new law and supporting the Philippine Government, especially the key actors in the implementation of this Act, as we continue our work towards the complete eradication of child marriage and all forms of violence against children in the Philippines.
UNICEF will be steadfast in safeguarding other actions including social protection measures, equitable access to education, uninterrupted health services, and empowerment of children and young people.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.