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Child Marriage in the Philippines

International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women (IDEVAW)



Sections 3 and 4 of Republic Act (RA) 11596, otherwise known as "An Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage and Imposing Penalties for Violations," which states that:


"Section 3. Definition of Terms. – As used in this Act:


"(a) Child refers to any human being under eighteen (18) years of age, or any person eighteen (18) years of age or over but who is unable to fully take care and protect oneself from abuse, neglect, cruelty, exploitation or discrimination because of a physical or mental disability or condition;


"(b) Child marriage refers to any marriage entered into where one or both parties are children as defined in the paragraph above, and solemnized in civil or church proceedings, or in any recognized traditional, cultural or customary manner. It shall include an informal union or cohabitation outside of wedlock between an adult and a child, or between children; xxx


"Section 4. Unlawful Acts. – The following are declared unlawful and prohibited acts:


"(a) Facilitation of Child Marriage. – Any person who causes, fixes, facilitates, or arranges a child marriage shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its medium period and a fine of not less than Forty thousand pesos (P40,000.00): Provided, however, That should the perpetrator be an ascendant, parent, adoptive parent, step parent, or guardian of the child, the penalty shall be prision mayor in its maximum period, or fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00), and perpetual loss of parental authority: Provided, further, That any person who produces, prints, issues and/or distributes fraudulent or tampered documents such as birth certificates, affidavits of delayed registration of birth and/or foundling certificates for the purpose of misrepresenting the age of a child to facilitate child marriage or evade liability under this Act shall be liable under this section, without prejudice to liability under other laws: Provided, finally, That if the perpetrator is a public officer, he or she shall be dismissed from the service and may be perpetually disqualified from holding office, at the discretion of the courts;


"(b) Solemnization of Child Marriage. – Any person who performs or officiates a child marriage shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00): Provided, however, That if the perpetrator is a public officer, he or she shall be dismissed from the service and may be perpetually disqualified from holding office, at the discretion of the courts; and

"(c) Cohabitation of an Adult with a Child Outside Wedlock.– An adult partner who cohabits with a child outside wedlock shall suffer the penalty of prision mayor in its maximum period and a fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00): Provided, however, That if the perpetrator is a public officer, he or she shall likewise be dismissed from the service and may be perpetually disqualified from holding office, at the discretion of the courts: Provided, finally, That this shall be without prejudice to higher penalties that may be imposed in the Revised Penal Code and other special laws."


Based on the above-stated law, "child marriage" is defined as any marriage entered into where one or both parties are children, by reason of age or incapacity to take care and protect one's self. It covers marriages solemnized in civil or church proceedings, or in any recognized traditional, cultural, or customary manner. It includes an informal union or cohabitation outside of wedlock between an adult and a child, or between children.


If this prohibition is violated, any person who causes, fixes, facilitates or arranges a child marriage, including those who produce, print, issue and/or distribute fraudulent or tampered documents to accomplish such purpose are liable. In addition, any person who performs or officiates a child marriage, or cohabits with a child outside of marriage shall also be criminally liable under RA 11596. Depending on the participation of the offender, the penalty may range from imprisonment of eight to 12 years and fine, to imprisonment of 10 to 12 years and fine.


Source: UN

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