Philippines bans child marriage
A law prohibiting child marriage was signed by President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and came into force on Thursday, making child marriage illegal in the country.
"The state... views child marriage as a practice constituting child abuse because it debases, degrades, and demeans the intrinsic worth and dignity of children," the law states.
It stipulates that marrying or cohabiting with anybody under the age of 18 can result in a 12-year prison sentence. The same punishment applies to those who organize or solemnize underage unions.
One in every six girls marries before the age of 18 in the Philippines. According to the Britain-based rights organisation Plan International, the Southeast Asian country has the world's 12th highest rate of child marriages, reported The Nation.
According to the government, the law complies with international accords on women's and children's rights.
However, some portions of the legislation have been suspended for one year to allow for a transition period for Muslims and indigenous tribes, where child marriage is relatively common.
A United Nations Children's Fund report released last year stated that more than half a billion girls and women throughout the world were married as children, with the highest rates found in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, reported The Nation.