The Commission on Human Rights on Friday expressed alarm over the plea of the 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to veto a law on child marriage.
“We urge the concerned members of the BTA to listen to their women and girls, to adopt a view of Sharia that is not opposed to the protection of women and girls right to health, right to education, and right to be free from violence, abuse, and exploitation,” the CHR said.
“We urge the members of the BTA to reach out to women’s organizations and leaders, and to fulfill their obligations as duty bearers – by upholding women and girls’ rights and ensuring a continuing dialogue so that the gains of this law will be fully realized,” the commission’s statement read.
“Lastly, the Commission expresses its commitment and support for full implementation of this measure,” it added.
The BTA is the governing body during the transition period in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
According to CHR, as the country’s Gender Ombud, it welcomed the passage of Republic Act No. 11596 or the Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage.
The passage of the act is a gender equality and child rights milestone, establishing the country’s commitment in abolishing traditional and cultural practices and structures that perpetuate discrimination, abuse and exploitation, CHR said.
It has opened a promise of a better future to the country’s children, ensuring they fully enjoy rights without discrimination, and protecting them from forced, early marriages including those acquiesced to, and initiated by their own families, it added.
It is a measure that responded to the lived experiences of women and girls who had to endure traditional practices prejudicial to their health and well-being.
“Considering all these, the Commission is very disappointed and deeply concerned that some Muslim members of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority has passed a resolution urging for a Presidential veto of RA 11596,” it stressed.
“We are alarmed that these members have unilaterally claimed that the Bangsamoro community does not support the law and that some members have claimed ‘its culture’ and thus very hard to change,” it said.
“We disagree. Culture is not static and neither should it be used to justify harmful practices and structures that perpetuate discrimination, abuse, and exploitation,” the CHR stated.