Senate passes on third reading bill declaring child marriage illegal

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9) — Senators have voted unanimously in favor of a bill that seeks to end child marriages in the country.

Senate Bill No. 1371, also known as the "Girls Not Brides Act," was passed on third reading on Monday. It was filed in March 2020 by Senator Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

"Today, we give our girls a chance to dream, a chance to define their futures according to their own terms, we defend their right to declare when they are ready to begin a family," Hontiveros said in a statement after the Senate approved the measure. "We give them a fighting chance."

The senator said the Philippines ranks as the 12th country with the highest number of children married under 18 years old estimated at 726,000 youngsters.

Twenty-one senators voted in favor of the bill. There were zero abstentions and negative votes.

Under the bill, any person who arranges, facilitates, or officiates child marriages will face a prison sentence of up to 12 years and fines of up to 50,000 pesos. They will also be held liable under Republic Act No. 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.