Proposed Girls not Bride Act backed

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The City Council, during last Monday’s regular session, supported the passage of Senate Bill (SB) No. 1373 or the proposed Girls not Bride Act of 2020.

In a resolution, city legislators stated that by supporting the approval of the proposed law, the city government stands in defense of the dignity of every girl’s inherent right to decide for herself when she wants to get married and have a family of their own, and not to be shackled by any antiquated social, economic, or traditional norm.

Earlier, the city adopted a policy of advancing public health, welfare, and livelihood augmenting programs, projects and activities for the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors of the society, such as the poor, the elderly, the disabled, women, youth and children and others deprived of growth opportunities.

The council said that it welcomes the approval of the Girls not Brides Act and that the aforesaid move is supported to help uplift and protect the rights of children, especially girls, against acts that are contrary to their free will and dignity.

Section 13, Article 2 of the Philippine Constitution guarantees that the State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.

Further, Section 14, Article 2 also recognizes the role of women in nation-building, and shall ensure the fundamental equality of women and men.

The council anchored its support to the passage of the law on the United Nations (UN) Convention on the rights of a Child and the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act to recognize, respect, protect, fulfil and promote all human rights and fundamental freedom of women and children, especially girls, in the economic, social, political, cultural and other fields.

According to the council, child marriages are an affront to the constitutionally and internationally recognized rights of children as such practice undermines their rights to education, health and autonomy.

Under existing laws, rules and regulations, children are held to incapable for freely giving their consent; the latter being an essential requisite of a valid marriage and that the absence of the same, the marriage is vid.

Proponents of the aforesaid bill claimed that the issue of child, early and forced marriages is one that is largely invisible to people in Metro Manila, but it is a tragic reality for scores of young girls who are forced by economic circumstances and cultural expectations to shelve their own dreams, begin families they are not ready for, and raise children even when their own childhoods have not yet ended.

Recently, the Senate approved on third and final reading SB No. 1373 or the girls not Brides Act where the bill aims to declare child marriages and marriages between a minor and an adult illegal and penalizes violation of the same to send a clear message to those that attempt to do such abuses not to do the same once the bill will be signed into law.

By Dexter A. See