By Fr. Shay Cullen
THE Philippine Senate has finally approved the final draft of the Philippine Senate Bill (SB) 2332 or An Act Increasing the Age for Determining Statutory Rape and other Acts of Sexual Abuse and Exploitation to Protect Children.
This law is historic and vital to the protection of children and the prosecution of the child rapists that are abusing children every day with impunity. It has repealed the penal code that said it was legal to have sex with a 12-year-old and older. Now it is a criminal act of statutory rape to have sex with a 16-year-old child or younger. A convicted offender faces a possible sentence of life in prison on the credible testimony of the child victim. This law is a powerful deterrent and provides greater protection for vulnerable children. Child rights advocates have been campaigning for this change for decades, Preda Foundation among them, and finally a day of victory for children.
There are many child protection laws in the Philippines and worldwide. US laws cover crimes against children committed by US citizens in the Philippines or any country abroad. The EU countries need to have a similar law.
We need to ask ourselves, why are such laws necessary? While the vast majority of humans love and respect children, millions don’t. As said before, it seems humans, the species with intelligence, are the only species that sexually abuse their own children. There is a deep moral flaw and inclination to evil in human nature and awareness about it among adults and children. It is the first important line of protection. We all have to watch out for them and know that pedophiles and abusers are abusing their own children because they can. It is so easy for a family member to intimidate and abuse a child and then get a child to say she “consented’ with the words, “yes po.”
The child would be unable, without help, to testify in court against her family about the incest rape. Family intimidation would traumatize the child. Few cases are reported, fewer come to court. That is why child sexual abuse has almost become the norm but most people have a mental block to admitting that fact.
We must remember that in a 2015 National Baseline Study on Violence Against Children, one in every five children in the Philippines in the age group of 13 to 17 said they experienced sexual violence while one in 25 suffered from forced consummated sex during childhood.
Child abuse is common everywhere throughout the world. Surveys show that one in three children worldwide are victims of sexual abuse and one in six boys are abused and raped. The majority of victims bury that anger and pain inside all their lives. It can and does distort a normal life and lead to many psychological traumas and even pours out in anger and violence.
Parents and guardians must never leave their child alone with an outsider no matter how kind, helpful, generous and caring he is or appears to be. At all times, they must follow that rule. Wise men will never be alone with a child not their own.
When you see the emotional pain and hurt endured by child victims, you will understand how much they suffer, most without relief. In the Preda Emotional Release Therapy, it can be seen here: Visit https://youtu.be/G0fFNmHSYic
Paula was a 14-year-old girl, vulnerable, helpless and in the control of her family. When her father and brother and a drinking partner of her father began to sexually abuse her, she was overwhelmed by them and could not escape or run away. She could not fight back and they persuaded her it was normal, that they loved her. It’s okay, let us do it,” they said. They presumed that by her silence she was giving consent to the abuse so much so that they also sexually abused her sister, Maria. They had a homegrown brothel- for free. They presumed the sisters were giving consent by their silence but it’s from fear of punishment and they had no way to complain. They never did give consent. They hated every act. Years later, when Paula was allowed to become a domestic helper, she told her employer about what she had endured.
That good woman contacted Preda Foundation and an investigation was begun and Paula and Maria were rescued and joined the Preda family. They are now free from their abusers and having therapy and education. They are empowered enough to file charges, with the help of the Preda paralegal officer, against their abusive family members. Now, the abusers will pay the consequences if justice is done and seen to be done. The change in the age of consent law will put many more abusers behind bars where they cannot abuse any more children.
Inexplicably, we ask why in 90 years of a male-dominated congress, the congressmen never considered changing the penal law that made children as young as 12 vulnerable, in constant danger of abuse and gave impunity to the pedophiles?
We have to conclude that some of them agreed with a majority of pedophiles in the world that it is just okay to have sex with 12-year-old children. It is only since more strong women have come into power in the congress that this bad abusive law was changed. The Preda team participated in the focused-group discussion organized by UP’s Gender Law and Policy Program (GLPP) that advised the senators and we are happy the law has been passed. May it have a swift passage in the bicameral.
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