A recently signed law criminalizing child marriage throughout the nation is facing pushback. Muslim leaders in Mindanao have appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to defer it, as the practice is vital in their culture.
Republic Act No. 11596 is also known as An Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage and Imposing Penalties. It was signed into law by the President last December 10; a copy was released in early February.
It recognizes the need to abolish cultural and traditional practices as well as structures which perpetuate the abuse, discrimination and exploitation of children. This includes the practice of child marriage.
Under the law, violators-including those who arranged, facilitated or fixed child marriage-will be slapped with jail time of 12 years at most. There is also a P40,000 minimum in terms of the fine to be paid.
The Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) released a resolution a day after the said copy came out. The BTA stands as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM)’s interim governing body.
In the resolution, they appeal to the President to stop the law’s implementation.
BARMM Labor and Employment Minister Romeo Sema spoke to the Philippine Daily Inquirer about it recently, stating that they “are asking the President to reconsider it and veto the law.
“In Islam, there is no fixed age [for girls to marry] … as long as a girl reaches the age of puberty,” Muslim leader Anwar Emblawa from Maguindanao’s town of Shariff Aguak said.