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FALSE: Law prohibits girls under 18 to be in a relationship – Rappler

May 8, 2021 8:03 AM PHT
A number of Facebook posts say that, according to the law, girls under the age of 18 are not allowed to be in relationships in order to prevent teenage pregnancies. The posts do not state the exact law that says this.
These posts were emailed to Rappler for verification and flagged by Facebook’s fact-checking tool as potentially misleading. The tool also said they were circulating in the Philippines. They have been shared around 7,356 times collectively since they were posted on Thursday, May 6. 
This claim is false.
There is no law for preventing teenage pregnancy that prohibits women under 18 to be in relationships in the Philippines. The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law, which ensures access to free contraception, reproductive health services at public hospitals, and sex education in public schools does not mandate this.
There are also bills pending in Congress about child marriage, raising the age of sexual consent, and preventing teenage pregnancy. Bills need to be passed in the House and the Senate, and require the concurrence of the President in order to be enacted.
On November 9, 2020, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1373 or the “Girls not Brides Act,” which prohibits marriage between minors – persons below 18 years old – or between a minor and an adult. There are at least four bills on child marriage pending with the House in the 18th Congress.
House Bill 7839 was approved on December 1, 2020. It considers rape if an adult has sexual contact with a minor who is below 16 years old. The minimum current age of sexual consent is 12 years old. 
A Senate panel on October 1, 2020, also approved proposed measures to raise the age of sexual consent to 16 years old. and there are three bills related to raising the age of sexual consent in the Senate pending with the respective committees. One of the bills, by Senator Risa Hontiveros, includes a “sweetheart provision” that allows consensual, non-exploitative, non-abusive sexual relations between two minors whose age difference is not more than four years.
Meanwhile, there are at least three bills pending in the House in the 18th Congress in relation to teenage pregnancies. These include measures on the needs of adolescents for preventing teen pregnancies and social protection for teen parents. – Vernise Tantuco/Rappler.com
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