Manila teenager Rose Alvarez was 13 when she started having sex with a man who was more than twice her age. That would be statutory rape in most countries, but not in the Philippines.
The Catholic-majority country has one of the lowest ages of consent in the world, allowing 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” in a country where abortion and divorce are illegal.
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 hotspot 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,” UNICEF said as the proposed legislation moved closer to a final vote.