MANILA – Child Rights Network (CRN), the largest alliance of organizations and agencies pushing for children’s rights legislation in the Philippine issued a statement on Friday, throwing its unequivocal support to 19-year-old Frankie Pangilinan. Her crusade started when she launched her #HijaAko movement after getting insulted by a public figure who said that the way women dress is “inviting the beast.” Ms. Pangilinan helped stir the discussion to national attention and enabled other victims and individuals to speak out against sexual violence.
CRN statement said “We join the public in calling on government authorities to investigate and file criminal complaints against another attacker who threatened to rape Ms. Pangilinan. The government has in its arsenal a number of laws that would extend protection against sexual threats made online, including Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act of 2019. Section 13 of the law provides that “physical, psychological, and emotional threats, unwanted sexual misogynistic, transphobic, homophobic and sexist remarks and comments online whether publicly or through direct and private messages” shall be penalized.”
“Child rights advocates in the Philippines are not taking this issue sitting down. It is a deeply personal issue in our part, as we attend to victims of rape and other child abuse cases and work on their healing. Rape is never a joke – it is a growing epidemic victimizing the most vulnerable sector of our society, children,” the statement continued.
CRN therefore calls for the passage of a law that will increase the age to determine statutory rape from the current below 12 years old to below 16. Children need the protection of the State from all kinds of sexual abuse. “The current age of below 12 is far below international standards and children beyond that age are not protected by the statutory rape clause and thus need to provide evidence in Court that there was no consent in the sexual act done by their abusers,” the statement further said.
CRN continued that “it also takes heavy exception to the comments made by the attacker that he will rape the adolescent Ms. Pangilinan if he were a 12-year-old because he will get away from the crime unscathed—a reference to the Minimum Age of Criminal Liability—to justify his wretched rape comments. This statement is downright misleading. Section 6 of Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act provides that “a child fifteen (15) years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability. However, the child shall be subjected to an intervention program.”
“We cannot emphasize enough: rape is rape, no ifs, no buts. Rape culture is deeply-rooted in patriarchal social norms. When it comes to addressing crimes perpetrated against children, we need to weed out outdated concepts that further amplify rape culture, and strengthen laws that protect our children. We should not tolerate anyone who takes these issues as mere laughing matter,” the statement concluded.