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Enforcement of prohibition of child marriage pressed

December 2, 2023 Arlene Rivera 159 views

VARIOUS government agencies, civil society organizations and youth groups pushed for wider information dissemination and implementation of RA 11596 or the Prohibition of Child Marriage (PCM) law.

The call is timely following the recent prosecution of the Socorro “cult” leaders and members involved in the facilitation and solemnization of forced marriages of 21 minors in Surigao del Norte as the country marks the 18 days of activism to end violence against women and girls’ campaign which kicked off last November 25.

“We have seen how child marriage deprives girls of their rights to health, education, safety, and wellbeing. When a child gives birth at an early age, we are not just putting the life of the young mother at risk but also her child. We don’t want this to happen to any child. The Socorro case is an example of why we need to strengthen the law’s implementation prohibiting child marriage,” said Oxfam Pilipinas Gender Justice Portfolio manager Jeanette Kindipan-Dulawan.

The Socorro case is the first time the Prohibition on Child Marriage Law will be enforced since it was signed into law in December 2021.

Authorities has ordered the arrest of the Socorro group leader and its members for 21 cases of human rights violation, including the facilitation and solemnization of marriage and child abuse.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, the lead agency mandated to implement the PCM Law, emphasized the importance of providing interventions for the victims-survivors of child marriages, particularly for the 21 minors involved in the Socorro case.

“The protection of children starts at home, but when it’s not fulfilled that’s when the government intervenes. The DSWD has 11 “home for the girls” where we take custodies of victim-survivors until they are able to re-integrate back to their communities,” said DSWD Assistant Secretary Atty. Elaine Fallarcuna.

She emphasized that the program management bureau of the agency is already crafting specific programs and services for victims-survivors and the program will be pilot-tested in the Caraga region where the Socorro case emanated.

The law states that the government should provide comprehensive, inclusive, and age-and-culturally-appropriate programs and services. These include legal, health, psychosocial, educational, livelihood and skills development, temporary shelter, and other assistance to protect victims-survivors of child marriage and their offspring.

Latest data showed that the Philippines has the 12th highest rate of child marriage in the world, with one in every six girls getting married before the age of 18.

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