Philippines bans child marriage hinh anh 1Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signs the new law banning child marriage (Photo:
Hanoi (VNA) - Child marriage became illegal in the Philippines starting January 6 as a law banning the practice took effect.

The Southeast Asian country has the 12th highest number of child marriages in the world, according to the UK-based rights group Plan International.

The new law, signed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, lays out prison terms of up to 12 years for marrying or cohabiting with anyone under 18.

People arranging or solemnising underage unions also face the same penalty.

The Philippine government says the law is consistent with international conventions on the rights of women and children.

However, some provisions of the law have been suspended for one year to allow for a transition period for Muslims and indigenous communities.

A report last year by the United Nations Children's Fund said more than half a billion girls and women worldwide were married in childhood, with the highest rates found in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

But recent data indicates the practice is generally in decline on average across the globe./.