Lagman: Ban on child marriage part of RH law

By Mavic Conde


What has the enactment of R.A. No. 11596, or the law that criminalizes child marriage, has to do with the Reproductive Health (RH) Law?


For the RH Law principal author Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, the former is “an important sequel to the RH law” which “includes the protection of the reproductive rights of children.”


In a news release, Lagman cited a provision in the RH Law which read: “State guarantees the promotion of gender equality, gender equity, women empowerment and dignity as a health and human rights concern and as a social responsibility.”


According to Britain-based rights group Plan International, Southeast Asia is 12th in terms of the highest number of child marriages in the world.


Those guilty of this crime, including living together out of wedlock with anyone under 18, as well as arranging underage union, will be jailed up to 12 years.


As one of the co-authors of this law, Lagman said cohabitation between an adult and a child outside of wedlock is no different from those of early child marriage for it results in child abuse.


To transition accordingly, certain parts of the law are suspended for one year in communities (Muslim and indigenous) where child marriage is common because of culture.


There are two more bills pending in the Congress under the coverage of the RH law. According to Lagman, these are the prevention of adolescent pregnancy; and the reinstitution of absolute divorce as a woman’s rights legislation.