Senators push ‘tougher’ anti-statutory rape bill

- By Butch Fernandez @butchfbm

THE Senate is poised to tackle in plenary deliberati­ons a “tougher” anti-rape bill raising to 16 the statutory rape age from 12 years old under the existing law, a very low threshold that advocates stressed has allowed many predators to abuse teenagers for the past many years.

This, after Senate Bill 2332 was endorsed for floor debates and early approval by the Senate’s Justice and Human Rights Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, jointly with the Committee on Women, Children and Family Relations chaired by

Senator Risa Hontiveros.

As endorsed, the bill provides for the prosecutio­n of a man or a woman who has sex with a boy or girl aged 16 years and below.

The accused can escape prosecutio­n only if the age difference between him/her and the victim is not more than four years and it is proven that the sexual act is consensual, nonabusive and non-exploitati­ve, or the minor was not coerced in doing the act.

According to Gordon, it is time to legislate this law because retaining the statutory rape age at age 12 exposes many young people to the danger of sexual abuse.

In all of Asia, he added, the

Philippine­s have the lowest age of sexual consent, and it is among the lowest in the world.

The Senate hearing showed, Gordon said, that one in every five Filipinos between the ages of 13 and 17 experience­s sexual violence, and that one in 25 respondent­s also suffered sexual abuse in their youth.

Most of those who abuse children are relatives, the Senate hearing showed.

As endorsed by the committee, Gordon said the punishment is the same for those abusing girls or boys, a move that is based on the fact that the current statutes make the abuse of young boys imposable with lesser penalty.

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