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Bill prohibits forced marriage for rape victims

September 8, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 197 views

A measure that seeks to protect rape victims from coerced marriage has been filed in the House of Representatives.

In filing House Bill 9083, 4Ps Party-list Representative JC Abalos said there is a need to repeal the “forgiveness clause” under Sec. 266-C of the Anti Rape Law of 1997 (Republic Act No. 8353), which pardons the rapist following a marriage to the victim.

The bill also seeks to amend the Family Code (Executive Order No. 209) by adding rape as a basis for annulment and the corresponding period of prescription under Articles 45 and 47.

“We seek to protect the unwilling victim against a coerced marriage with a rapist by giving them ample time to get an annulment. Understandably, it may take time for rape victims to find their voices, but we want to ensure that they’ll have it under this proposed measure,” Abalos said.

Although rape carries a capital punishment, the current law allows rapists to evade legal consequences by coercing their victims into marriage.

Coupled with the Filipino culture of “pagbabangong puri,” victims are often forced into marriage against their will due to a sense of shame and the belief that the act of marriage can preserve the dignity of the victim and their family.

The proposed bill refines the anti-rape law by repealing the forgiveness clause as it appears inconsistent with the law’s reclassification of rape as public crime.

“If we want to preserve the sanctity of marriage, no person should be coerced to marry the person who violates them. We must stop forcing the victim into a lifetime of indignity while their rapist evades punishment. It is high time that we rectify the harm brought about by an incoherent, antiquated, and unjust law, which does not conform with the current socio-political and cultural realities of the present society,” Abalos pointed out.