Child marriage is any marriage wherein one or both of the spouses is a child. Child marriage is often referred to as early and/or forced marriage since children, given their age, are not yet able to give free, prior and informed consent to their marriage partners (UNFPA). Child marriage has negative impacts on the health and development of children, especially of girls.
In the Philippines, 15% of women aged 20-24 years old were first married or in union before the age of 18 years old (2013 NDHS). It happens in certain indigenous communities as a traditional practice and in Muslim communities as allowed by the Code of Muslim Personal Laws.
At the House of Representatives, HB 8440 or “An Act Protecting Children by Prohibiting and Declaring Child Marriage as Illegal and Providing Programs and Penalties Thereof” was filed on 10 October 2018 by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy and Rep. Edcel Lagman.
The filing of the bill is historical as it is the first time that a bill with such content has been introduced in Congress. The bill aims to provide equal protection for all children by declaring the facilitation of child marriage as illegal and punishable by law nationwide.