Oxfam Pilipinas and its partners warned last week against “long-existing norms” that could hinder the full implementation of the country’s anti-child marriage law.
“We must counter the spread of harmful norms and nurture well-informed communities that will collectively uphold the rights of every young Filipino girl,” said Erika Geronimo, executive director of Oxfam Pilipinas.
Last year, advocates celebrated the signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Prohibition of Child Marriage (PCM) Law, which they said signifies a crucial step in the country’s efforts to end violence against women and girls and child, early, and forced marriages.
Child rights advocates, however, cautioned against potential misinformation regarding the law’s purpose and stressed the need to strengthen the government’s efforts to “improve understanding of the intentions of the law” and its IRR to the public.
Rom Dongeto, executive director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), said each day that passes without the full implementation of the law “is a lost opportunity to keep girls safe and empower them to reach their full potential”.
He said that ending child marriage in the country requires challenging deeply ingrained norms and bringing about a shift in behavior.
Every year, at least 12 million girls worldwide are married before reaching the age of 18, according to Oxfam Pilipinas.
In the Philippines, the 2017 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey revealed that one in every four women aged 15-49 has experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse from their spouse or partner, and one in every six young Filipino women has been married before turning 18.
Geronimo emphasized the importance of shifting towards more positive norms to achieve a world where every girl “can build their dreams, make their own choices, and live free from all forms of violence”, including child marriage.
Oxfam Pilipinas and the PLCPD are currently implementing the “Bridging the Information Gap on the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law in the Philippines and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (BIG PCM Law and its IRR) Project.”
The project aims to strengthen the capacity of both the government and civil society organizations to bridge the information dissemination gap on the PCM Law and its IRR, thereby advancing the cause of ending child marriage in the Philippines.