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Father Shay Cullen is an Irish Columban missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1969. In 1974, he founded the Preda Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children and campaigning for freedom from sex slavery and human trafficking.

No more impunity for child rapists in the Philippines

No more impunity for child rapists in the Philippines

A Filipino father and his child attend a dance exercise in suburban Manila to draw attention to the sexual abuse of women and children as part of the 'One Billion Rising' campaign on Feb. 6, 2016. (Photo: AFP)

Published: October 04, 2021 03:44 AM GMT
The historic bill providing for a life sentence for a convicted child abuser will serve as a powerful deterrent

The Philippine Senate has finally approved the final draft of a law that is vital to the protection of children and the prosecution of child rapists who were committing the crime with impunity.

The Philippine Senate Bill (SB) 2332 is a historic law as it seeks to repeal the penal code that said it was legal to have sex with a 12-year-old or older child. Now it will be a criminal act of statutory rape to have sex with a 16-year-old or younger child.

A convicted offender faces a possible sentence of life in prison on the credible testimony of the child victim. This law is a powerful deterrent and provides greater protection for vulnerable children.

Child rights advocates, including the Preda Foundation, have been campaigning for this change for decades. It is finally a day of victory for children. 

There are many child protection laws in nations around the world. US laws cover crimes against children committed by its citizens in any country including the Philippines. European Union countries need to have a similar law.

We need to ask ourselves why such laws are necessary. While the vast majority of humans love and respect children, millions don’t. As said before, it seems humans, the species with intelligence, are the only species that sexually abuse their own children.

The child would be unable, without help, to testify in court against her family about incestuous rape

There is a deep moral flaw and inclination to evil in human nature and awareness about it among adults and children. It is the first important line of protection.

We all have to watch out for them and know that pedophiles and abusers are abusing their own children because they can. It is so easy for a family member to intimidate and abuse a child and then get a child to say she “consented.”  

The child would be unable, without help, to testify in court against her family about incestuous rape. Family intimidation would traumatize the child. Few cases are reported, fewer come to court. That is why child sexual abuse has almost become the norm but most people have a mental block to admitting the fact.

We must remember that in a 2015 national baseline study on violence against children, one in every five children in the Philippines in the age group of 13 to 17 said they had experienced sexual violence, while one in 25 had suffered from forced consummated sex during childhood.

Child abuse is common everywhere in the world. Surveys show that one in three children is a victim of sexual abuse and one in six boys is abused and raped. The majority of victims bury that anger and pain inside all their lives. It can and does distort a normal life and lead to many psychological traumas. It even pours out in anger and violence.

Parents and guardians must never leave their child alone with an outsider no matter how kind, helpful, generous and caring he is or she appears to be. At all times, they must follow that rule. Wise men will never be alone with a child not their own.       

When you see the emotional pain and hurt endured by child victims, you will understand how much they suffer, most without relief. In Preda emotional release therapy, it can be seen in this YouTube video

Paula was a 14-year-old girl, vulnerable, helpless and controlled by her family. When her father and brother and a drinking partner of her father began to sexually abuse her, she was overwhelmed by them and could not escape or run away.

She could not fight back as they persuaded her it was normal. “It’s OK, let us do it,” they said. They presumed that by her silence she was giving consent to the abuse so much so that they also sexually abused her sister, Maria.

They had a homegrown brothel — for free. They presumed the sisters were giving consent by their silence but it’s from fear of punishment and they had no way to complain. They never did give consent. They hated every act.

Years later, when Paula was allowed to become a domestic helper, she told her employer about what she had endured.

The change in the age of consent law will put many more abusers behind bars where they cannot abuse any more children

That good woman contacted the Preda Foundation and an investigation was begun. Paula and Maria were rescued and joined the Preda family. They are now free from their abusers and having therapy and education. They are empowered enough to file charges, with the help of the Preda paralegal officer, against their abusive family members. 

Now, the abusers will pay the consequences if justice is done and seen to be done. The change in the age of consent law will put many more abusers behind bars where they cannot abuse any more children.

Inexplicably, we ask why in 90 years of a male-dominated Congress, they never considered changing the penal law that made children as young as 12 vulnerable, in constant danger of abuse, and gave impunity to the pedophiles?

We have to conclude that some of them agreed with a majority of pedophiles in the world that it is just OK to have sex with 12-year-old children.

It is only since more strong women have come into power in Congress that this bad abusive law was changed. The Preda team participated in the focus group discussion organized by the University of the Philippines gender law and policy program that advised the senators and we are happy the law has been passed. May it have a swift passage in the bicameral.

Irish missionary Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in the Philippines in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sexual abuse. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

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