If the attorney general gets his way, men, who engage in sex with their common-law wife of five years, without her consent, can face prosecution.
Steadroy Benjamin said two pieces of legislation will be taken before Parliament, in short order, and one will tackle this issue.
“Where a man and woman live together for more than five years and they are deemed to be a union then that gentleman will also be deemed to be an accused person if he violates his common-law wife,” Benjamin said.
He said the term rape will be further defined since under the current act a man cannot rape his wife. “We know what rape means but we want to define it specifically when it comes to common-law unions, and that type of union pervades throughout the Caribbean,” he added.
The AG was speaking at the launch of the model guidelines for Sexual Offences Cases in the Caribbean Region where it was revealed that a court will be set up in Antigua and Barbuda by mid-year to deal with sexual offences.
Justice Iain Morley is expected to handle these cases and 18 months, from the date of report, is the intended deadline to have the matters completed in the court. Benjamin said the second piece of legislation will look specifically at victims’ support with a focus on vulnerable witnesses and young victims. He added that the act will give victims the right to be heard at the sentencing of their convicted perpetrator and the right to counselling.
“Under this legislation, the government will introduce…a sexual predator register, and this register will address, among other things, those offenders who have a propensity to prey on young boys and girls.
We will also look at the [Lesbian Gays Bisexual Transgender] community and … all the groups in our modern society will be given the protection,” he added.