Still reeling from the results of the latest national elections? So am I.
In the Philippines, all of the seats in Congress and about half the seats in the Senate are up for election every three years. During this time, we’re supposed to select our congressmen and senators from a pool of new candidates and re-electionists. Clearly, we need to exercise a great deal of care in choosing, but that’s not usually the case.
Anyway, I’m not here to discuss my opinions on each candidate. (Wouldn’t want to start a flame war in the comments section, thank you very much.) Instead, let’s try to focus on the task at hand.
To be fair, our legislative officials have made progress. The expanded maternity leave, for instance, made waves for its progressive provisions. The BMBE law is surely a boon to small business owners as well.
Still, there is another matter that our legislators need to address, and soon. I’m talking about the revision of some very outdated laws that still hold sway in our country, and these include the following.
- The age of consent for sexual activity is 12 years old.
- You can be jailed for offending religious feelings.
- Dueling merits jail time.
- Castration gets you thirty years’ imprisonment.
- Sexual infidelity laws heavily discriminate against women.
- Marriage to your rapist extinguishes his/her criminal case and revokes the accompanying penalty.
- Abortion is illegal under all circumstances.
My thoughts exactly.
Yes, consexual sex with a minor under the age of 18 doesn’t automatically qualify as statutory rape. Ugh.
The Anti-Rape Law of 1997 considers sexual intercourse with a woman under the age of 12 as rape under all circumstances. However, this implies that consensual intercourse with a minor above 12 years of age is legal. The only exceptions are if consent was obtained through deceit, if the minor’s guardian, teacher, or priest was involved, and if the minor in question is a victim of child trafficking.
Senator Leila de Lima filed a bill to raise the age of consent to 18 last year, but it’s still pending.
Perhaps we should also redefine rape as something that happens to guys as well while we’re at it.
Under the law, you can go to jail for performing “notoriously offensive” acts in a place of worship. The maximum sentence is a year and eight months.
Tour guide Carlos Celdran was convicted last year for his Damaso stunt eight years prior. On the other hand, the Office of the Solicitor General did consider the said law unconstitutional for restraining free speech, as should we all.
I don’t know if people still do this, what with all the online wars being a safer alternative. So, apparently, you can still go to jail for challenging someone to a duel. And get this, you can both serve time for half a year even if you don’t injure each other.
Sounds antiquated? Well, this was adapted from the 1887 Spanish Penal Code, after all.
Want another example of an archaic law from the 17th century Spanish Penal Code? Well, here’s one.
Intentionally mutilating another’s reproductive organs nets a jail sentence of up to three decades. The length, pardon the pun, is based on how much damage you inflicted on your victim’s ability to procreate. Yikes.
If you think we no longer need feminism, think again.
Under the current law, a married man can have as many affairs with as many women as long as he doesn’t live with any of them. Any wife looking to charge her husband with concubinage also needs to prove that the illicit liaison happened in their conjugal home.
Now, what would it take to charge a married woman with the same crime? Simple. All it takes is a single sexual act with a man who isn’t her husband (even if her husband already abandoned her).
There have been several attempts to remove this distinction, but none have found success so far.
Hmm, could it be because our legislators are predominantly male? Makes you wonder how many of them maintain mistresses on the country’s dime, eh?
If you’ve made it this far without banging your head onto your desk, congratulations. I bet this next one will turn your stomach, though.
Current PH law rules that a rape victim’s marriage to his/her rapist basically absolves the latter of the crime. This is exactly what happened back in 2010, when a convicted rapist and his victim got married at the Bureau of Corrections. They even presented their wedding photos as evidence for securing the guy’s release.
You may vomit now.
Okay, so intentionally terminating a pregnancy is a touchy subject. In some ways, it can be tantamount to murder, I suppose.
However, with the sole exception of Laos, we are the only ASEAN country to prohibit abortion in its entirety. Our neighbors permit its application to save a woman’s life or to preserve her mental and physical health. It also happens to be perfectly legal in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore.
Legislation is crucial to any country’s growth and development. Laws shape our culture, play a hand in the distribution of resources, and provide the basis for social justice. Drafting or revising them isn’t something you take lightly.
Let us hope that the new crop of legislators bear these in mind as they assume their mandates.