The Senate has unanimously approved a bill that outlaws child marriages and seeks jail time for those who enable it.
The "Girls Not Brides" Bill seeks to protect girls from abuse. Relatives who allow girls 17 years old and below could be jailed and fined at least P50,000. Non-relatives found guilty of the same offense could also be imprisoned and fined at least P40,000.
One in every six girls in the Philippines marry before they reach 18, according to data from the United Nations Population Fund. A quarter of those who marry as minors suffer from domestic violence and abuse, the UN agency said.
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"Today we give our girls a chance to dream, a chance to define their future according to their own terms," said the bill's author, Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
"We defend their right to declare when they are ready to begin their families. We tell them their health matters to us, their education matters to us. We give them a fighting shot," she said.
Under the program, government agencies will be directed to draft programs to "end child marriages."