Attorney calls for changes to sexual offences laws

Local attorney Monique Francis-Gordon said changes need to be made to the archaic sexual offences laws to make the penalties reflect suitable punishment for offenders.

“I think the Act is outdated and not dealing with the realities of today and I think it needs to be looked at — but not just by the legislative. We need to speak to counsellors, psychologists, people who have knowledge of what’s going on in the field and then come up with a harmonious set of laws to deal with the situation,” she said.

Speaking on The Big Issues, on Sunday, the lawyer said that the penalties for females who are convicted of sexual offences are significantly less when compared to those meted out to male sex offenders.

She stated that the penalties should be the same for both sexes, and noted that several changes would have to be made to the laws for this to happen.

“I think we need to look at the law quite carefully because on a strict reading it appears to criminalise a young male – a 13-year-old boy having sex with a 13-year-old girl, whereas for females the law specifically says an adult female having sex with an underaged male. When it refers to the victim being an underaged girl, it does not define the male as an adult male so that suggests to me that a 13 year old male is subject to the same penalties and I have a problem with that,” Francis-Gordon said.

She also pointed out that the laws currently criminalise misguided young people making uninformed choices.

Also weighing in on the discussion was Psychologist and Florida Board certified Clinical Sexologist, Dr Karen Carpenter, who said that countries should learn from the failed US abstinence programmes and encourage children’s curiosity and formulate a comprehensive sex education programme that would include the input of all involved, including children and their parents.

She added, “I’m puzzled as to why we think any kind of incarceration or penal system is going to help if we have no remedial practices that the young people are involved in. I disagree that the notion of sports would keep young people from having sex; basketball and sex is not the same thing.”

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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