THE City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) in Davao City has intensified its information campaign against child marriage, an official said.
In a radio interview, CSWDO head Marlisa Gallo said they are pushing for wider dissemination of the Anti-Child Marriage Law with the anticipated release of its implementing rules and Regulations (IRR).
Republic Act 11596 also known as “An Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage and Imposing Penalties for Violations Thereof,” was signed into law by then-President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2021.
Its IRR has been signed by the DSWD and various agencies on Dec. 2022, but the official signed copy has not been published yet.
Child marriage, according to the law, refers to a marriage entered into, where one or both parties are children and are solemnized in any recognized traditional, cultural, or customary manner.
Gallo said the law primarily protects the emotional and health wellness of children who are introduced prematurely to married life.
“If children get married early, they are not yet emotionally ready. Their body is also not ready, and this affects the health of young females,” she said.
With the law, Gallo noted that those who cause and fix or arrange a child marriage, perform or officiate a child marriage, and an adult partner who cohabits with a child out of wedlock, are to be penalized.
Based on the law, any person who arranges the marriage of a minor can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and subject to paying a fine of not less than P40,000.
If the violator is found to be a parent or guardian, the penalty increases to up to 12 years of imprisonment, and they will be subject to pay a fine of not less than P50,000.
The same penalty applies to anybody who officiates a child marriage.
Gallo said the CSWDO will help orient cultural groups that practice child marriage to fully understand R.A. 11596.
“There is a health aspect and this is still a long process because it involves culture, and if you say culture it cannot be easily changed,” she said. (PNA)