‘More than alarming’: Catriona Gray urges lawmakers to pass law raising age of sexual consent

July 22, 2021 - 9:04 PM
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Catriona Gray from Instragram
Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray in this photo from her Instagram on July 13, 2021 as taken by Noel Cantalejo. (Photo from Instagram/catriona_gray)

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray backed UNICEF‘s call for Philippine lawmakers to pass a law increasing the current age to determine statutory rape.

The beauty queen, whose pageant advocacy focused on the well-being of children, quote tweeted a post of UNICEF Philippines on Thursday which appeals for Congress to increase the age of sexual consent from 12-year-old.

“Calling on Philippine Congress!! … It’s MORE than alarming that the age of sexual consent in our country is still 12 YRS OLD. Not only is it one of the lowest in Asia and in the world, but it leaves young children in the Philippines vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Please act now!” she wrote in her quote tweet.

UNICEF in its post shared that the Southeast Asian country allows adults to have sex with children as young as 12 years old and could claim that it was consensual or mutual.

“We’re calling on the Philippine Congress to immediately pass a law that increases the age to determine statutory rape. #ENDChildRape,” it added.

Television host Anne Curtis also joined the call and said that the current low age for sexual consent is “sick.”

“Can you believe, at 12 years old an adult can have sex with a child and claim it’s consensual?” she wrote, quote tweeting UNICEF as well.

“You aren’t even legally allowed to get married, vote, get a license yet… but this is allowed?” Anne added.

She is currently a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and was appointed as the UNICEF Celebrity Advocate for Children in 2015.

UNICEF’s appeal comes as the opening of the Congress’ 18th session draws near.

The UN agency is calling for its upper and lower chambers “to prioritize the immediate passage of a law that increases the age for determining the commission of statutory rape from below 12 to below 16.”

“The UN has long voiced concerns about the alarmingly low age of sexual consent in the Philippines. The age of consent is the lowest in Asia and one of the lowest in the world, leaving children in the Philippines vulnerable to abuse and exploitation,” the United Nations agency said in a statement.

“Sexual violence results in severe physical, psychological and social harm for children. Victims experience an increased risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, pain, illness, unwanted pregnancy, social isolation and psychological trauma. Some victims may resort to risky behaviours like substance abuse to cope with trauma,” it explained.

UNICEF proposed that the age in determining statutory rape should be below 16 years old instead. This means having sex with children below this age would be considered a crime.

It noted that the initiative is a step “towards fulfilling children’s rights to protection from sexual violence, abuse and exploitation, regardless of their sex, orientation and gender identity and expression.”

“The UN remains committed to supporting the Government in creating a safe environment for children,” the agency said.

The House of Representatives on December 2020 approved a bill setting the age of statutory rape to 16 years old.

The Senate, on the other hand, approved the counterpart bill at the joint panel level.

Child Rights Network last May urged the upper chamber to expedite the proceedings.

There are at least five counterpart measures that were reported to be still in a pending status at the Senate committee on Justice and Human Rights.