MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros has sponsored a bill seeking to amend and strengthen the 20-year old anti-rape law, which she said “needs to be urgently updated” because it “puts unjust burden on rape victims and is a far cry from doing justice to those aggrieved.”
In her sponsorship speech for the bill Monday, Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate committee on women, said the current law against rape does not provide women enough protection, citing a recent Supreme Court decision that acquitted an accused rapist because the victim’s failure to prevent the incident was “eloquent proof of her consent.”
The measure would also raise the age of statutory consent, currently 12, to 18 years old. She said the country’s age of sexual consent is one of the lowest in the world, and the lowest in the region.
“We are beaten only by Nigeria, with the lowest age of sexual consent in the world at 11, and we have the same age of sexual consent as Angola, which ranks 117 out of 144 countries in the gender equality index,” Hontiveros noted.
The Hontiveros bill also seeks to:
- Emphasize the absence of consent as the essential element of the crime of rape, and specifically including the phrase ‘whether or not the victim suffers injuries’
- Introduce three additional aggravating circumstances, specifically the use of video recording or electronic device during the commission of the rape; the status of the offender as a person of public or moral authority, when such authority is used to perpetrate the crime of rape; and the perpetration of rape as a hate crime against marginalized communities
- Repeal the forgiveness clause, or the clause that allows for the crime of rape to be extinguished by the marriage of the accused to the defendant
Records of the Philippine National Police show a person is raped every hour in the country.
The incidence of reported violence against Filipinas has steadily increased from 2,040 in 2012 to 4,605 in 2016, while reported rape, on the other hand, increased from 1,030 in 2012 to 1,897 in 2016.