Senator Risa Hontiveros sponsored a bill pushing for amendments to Republic Act No. 8353 otherwise known as the Anti-Rape Law of 1997.
Hontiveros said that the 20-year old law must be radically revised to reflect the country’s commitment to fighting rape and violence against women.
“Our Anti-rape law needs to be urgently updated. Currently, our rape law puts unjust burden on rape victims and is a far cry from doing justice to those aggrieved,” the lady legislator said in her sponsorship speech.
The lady lawmaker said that the current law does not provide women the mantel of protection needed against sexual violence. She cited a recent Supreme Court decision that acquitted an accused rapist stating that what the victim did not do to prevent the incident was “eloquent proof of her consent.”
The lady senator, who is the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, said her bill aims to increase the age of statutory consent – currently at 12 years old – to 18 years old. She said that 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”, she explained.
Hontiveros said that her bill also aims to strengthen the country’s Anti-rape Law by:
1. Emphasizing 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’; 2. Introducing 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; 3. Repealing 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.
“We live in a period when the culture of rape and sexual harassment is prevalent, condoned and reinforced by the sexism and misogyny of some of our public officials. We cannot allow this to continue any futher. Enacting a stronger and more responsive Anti-rape law is a step towards instituting strategic policies to address the prevalence of the rape culture in our society which leads to physical sexual assault and other forms of violence against our women and children,” she said.
According to the records of the Philippine National Police (PNP), 1 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. The incidence of reported rape, on the other hand, increased from 1,030 in 2012 to 1,897 in 2016.