The Philippines looks set to raise age of consent from 12 to 16

MANILA: The Philippines allows adults to legally have sex with children as young as 12.

Child rights activists have lobbied for decades to increase the age - enshrined in the Penal Code since 1930 - but faced resistance from what they describe as a "culture of patriarchy". Congress now looks set to approve a Bill to raise the age to 16.

Campaigners say the legislation would help protect youngsters in a nation that has become a global hot spot for online child sex abuse and where more than 500 teenagers get pregnant and give birth every day.

"This is a victory for Filipino children," Ms Patrizia Benvenuti, Unicef's chief of child protection in the Philippines, said recently as the proposed legislation moved closer to a final vote.

A woman or child is raped nearly every hour, Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a document to the Senate, citing figures from the Centre for Women's Resources. Seven out of 10 victims are children and the vast majority are girls, she said. - AFP