Senator Win Gatchalian wants to raise the minimum age of sexual consent from 12 years old to 18 years old for statutory rape.
Gatchalian recently filed Senate Bill No. 739, which seeks to bring the age of sexual consent to the same level as the age of majority in order to give minors ample protection against the crimes of rape and other forms of sexual exploitation or abuse.
The lawmaker explained that at present, Philippine laws are less stringent in determining liability for sexual offenses committed against minors above 12 years old. He emphasized that our present laws make it more difficult to punish those accused of raping minors above the age of 12 years old as they cannot be held liable for statutory rape.
He stressed that the “despite the insurmountable amount of legal, humanitarian, and advocacy works being done in the country, incidents of prostitution and sexual solicitation involving victims who are under 18 years old have become every day news, and this highlights a greater need to strengthen our existing laws.”
Gatchalian also pointed out that the legal age of sexual consent varies in different countries ranging from 11 years old to 21 years old.
He pointed out that in the United States, the legal age of sexual consent varies from state to state ranging from 16 to 18 years old, while the age of sexual consent in Canada, Australia, and most Asian countries – including, Malaysia,Singapore, and Taiwan – is 16 years old.
Moreover, he also pointed out Bahrain and Portugal as having the highest legal age of sexual consent in the world at 21 years old, with Niue, an Oceanian country, coming in next at 19 years old, while Nigeria has the lowest age of sexual consent in the world at 11 years old – thereby making the Philippines as one of the countries with the second lowest age of sexual consent.
“In the Philippines, the age of majority starts at 18 years of age. Rights acquired upon reaching the age of majority include the right to give consent to a contract, the right to vote, the right to obtain a Professional Driver’s License and the right to marry subject to obtaining parental consent,” he added.
“Upon reaching the age of majority, a person is considered to have reached basic level of maturity that allows him to exercise all the rights and assume all the responsibilities of being an adult. Consequently, the age of majority should also be considered as the proper age in terms of giving sexual consent,” Gatchalian further stressed.