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Philippines

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
2%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
15%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
2%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
15%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

17% of Filipino girls are married before their 18th birthday and 2% are married before the age of 15.

According to the latest available DHS data from 2003, 3% of boys in Philippines are married before the age of 18.

Philippines has the 10th highest absolute number of women married or in a union before the age of 18 in the world – 808,000.

Women in Soccsksargen, Eastern Visayas and Mimaropa marry earlier than those in other regions.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.

In the Philippines, child marriage is exacerbated by:

  • Trafficking: The trafficking of women and girls from rural regions of Visayas and Mindanao to urban cities such as Cebu City, Manila and Quezon City is common. Trafficking also occurs in tourist destinations such as Boracay, Angeles City and Surigao where there is a high demand for commercial sex from women and girls. Some girls are forced into marriage. The Philippines’ popular “mail-order bride” industry also places girls at risk of being subject to forced marriage.
  • Religion: The Muslim Law on Personal Status, based on Sharia law, allows marriage at the age of 15 for boys and at the onset of puberty for girls. The Philippines is predominantly Roman Catholic and the only country in the world that does not allow divorce. This places young married girls in a particularly vulnerable position.
  • Level of education: A 2017 Poverty Indicators Survey revealed that the majority of children out of school are girls, with marriage being the top reason for school dropout.
  • Adolescent pregnancy: In the Philippines, one in 10 girls aged 15–19 are already Adolescent pregnancy can occur both before and after marriage.

Humanitarian settings can encompass a wide range of situations before, during, and after natural disasters, conflicts, and epidemics. They exacerbate poverty, insecurity, and lack of access to services such as education, factors which all drive child marriage. In the case of the Philippines, the country is highly exposed to various natural disasters, which is further compounded by armed conflict between the government and armed groups.

Internal conflict and displacement: The displacement in the Bangsamoro region (most recently in 2015) resulted in a number of child marriage cases, as families in evacuation centres saw marrying off their daughters as a coping mechanism due to economic instability, fear of violence, and a felt need to maintain “family honour”. During the Marawi siege crisis in 2017, a survey by Plan International revealed that early and forced marriage was a common form of violence against girls in the evacuation sites and many girls were forced to marry their perpetrator in cases of sexual violence.

What has this country committed to?

The Philippines has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Philippines co-sponsored the 2014 and 2018 UN General Assembly resolution on child, early and forced marriage.

The Philippines ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 2016 the CEDAW Committee urged the government to eliminate the root causes of child and forced marriage, including poverty, conflict and insecurity, as well as vulnerability to the impact of natural disasters. It also raised concerns between the provisions of the Magna Carta on Women and those of the Code of Muslim Personal Laws and customary laws applicable to indigenous communities, which drive harmful practices such as child and forced marriage.

During the Philippines’ 2017 Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights Committee recommended that the government revise the minimum age of marriage for girls in the Code of Muslim Personal Laws.

In 2012 a UN envoy warned that Filipino girls are at particular risk of being forced into marriage and that the sexual exploitation of girls remained socially and culturally tolerated in the Philippines.

The Philippines has committed to the ASEAN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Violence against Children (2013), which acknowledges the importance of strengthening ASEAN efforts to protect children from all forms of violence, including early marriage.

Philippines is a Pathfinder country for the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

As reported by UNFPA in 2019, the Department of Health and the Commission on Population and Development are developing, with the technical assistance of UNFPA, a fatwa (a legal opinion on a point of Islamic law) that will discourage early marriages. The Commission on Population and Development is also working with religious leaders and other elders to raise awareness about the forthcoming fatwa.

In 2018, a bill to criminalise Child Marriage in the Philippines was filed in the House of Representatives. If enacted into law the bill would penalise solemnising officers and parents who arranged and consented to a child marriage. However, as of end of 2019, the enactment of the bill is reported to be shelved.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Family Code 1988, the legal minimum age of marriage is 18 for both girls and boys. Parental consent is required for persons under 21.

However, under the Muslim Law on Personal Status girls are eligible to be married as soon as they reach puberty (but not below the age of 12) and with permission of the Court. Muslim boys can be married at age 15.

Source

ASEAN Commission on the Rights of Women and Children, The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and Elimination of Violence against Children in ASEAN,2013, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Women/WG/ASEANdeclarationVaW_violenceagainstchildren.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines, [undated], http://www.chanrobles.com/presidentialdecreeno1083.htm#.Xh9iXC1DlQJ (accessed January 2020).

Family Code of the Philippines, Executive Order No. 209, 1987, http://www.chanrobles.com/executiveorderno209.htm#.XiAlmC1DlQI (accessed January 2020).

Foreign Policy, The last country in the world where divorce is illegal, [website], 2015, http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/19/the-last-country-in-the-world-where-divorce-is-illegal-philippines-catholic-church/ (accessed January 2020).

European Commission, Philippines, [website], https://ec.europa.eu/echo/where/asia-and-pacific/philippines_en (accessed April 2020).

Global Nation, UN envoy warns on human trafficking in Philippines, [website], 2012, http://globalnation.inquirer.net/55726/un-envoy-warns-on-human-trafficking-in-philippines (accessed January 2020).

Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, Philippines, [website], https://www.end-violence.org/impact/countries/philippines (accessed April 2020).

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and World Health Organization (WHO), Child, Early and Forced Marriage Legislation in 37 Asia-Pacific Countries,2016, http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/gender_rights/cefm-asia-pacific/en/ (accessed January 2020).

Joint Regional Child Protection and Gender-Based Violence Working Group, Child Protection Rapid Assessment Report: Marawi Displacement, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), 2017, https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/CPRA%20Marawi%20Displacement.pdf (accessed January 2020).

National Statistics Office, National Demographic and Health Survey 2003, 2004, https://www.dhsprogram.com/publications/publication-fr156-dhs-final-reports.cfm?cssearch=25848_1 (accessed January 2020).

Philippine Statistics Authority, Annual Poverty Indicators Survey 2017, 2018, https://psa.gov.ph/sites/default/files/2017%20APIS%20FINAL%20REPORT.pdf (accessed January 2020).

Philippine Statistics Authority, Philippines National Demographic and Health Survey 2017, 2018, https://www.dhsprogram.com/publications/publication-fr347-dhs-final-reports.cfm?cssearch=25848_1 (accessed January 2020).

Preen, Child marriages occur in the Philippines and we must continue the fight against it, [website], 2019, https://preen.ph/100447/child-marriages-occur-in-the-philippines-and-we-must-continue-the-fight-against-it (accessed January 2020).

UN CEDAW, Concluding observations on the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of the Philippines, 2016, p.15, http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CEDAW/C/PHL/CO/7-8&Lang=En (accessed January 2020).

UN General Assembly, Compilation on the Philippines Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2017, p. 10, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/PHindex.aspx(accessed January 2020).

UN General Assembly, Report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo. Mission to the Philippines, A/HRC/23/48/Add.3, 2013, https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/51b874e94.pdf(accessed January 2020).

UNFPA Philippines, Empowering Maranao girls against child marriage, [website], 2019, https://philippines.unfpa.org/en/news/empowering-maranao-girls-against-child-marriage (accessed January 2020).

UNICEF East Asia & Pacific, Report On The Regional Forum on Adolescent Pregnancy, Child Marriage And Early Union In South-East Asia And Mongolia, 2018, https://www.unicef.org/eap/media/3696/file/Adolescent%20pregnancy.pdf (accessed January 2020).

UNICEF, Reversing the Trend: Child Trafficking in East and South-East Asia, 2009, https://www.unicef.org/protection/Unicef_EA_SEA_Trafficking_Report_Aug_2009_low_res.pdf (accessed January 2020).

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg5 (accessed January 2020).

United States State Department, US Trafficking in Persons Report, Philippines, 2016, https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2016/258843.htm (accessed January 2020).

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

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