New laws on sexual harassment ahead

Social Transformation Minister Dean Jonas
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The government is working towards establishing legislation on sexual harassment in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Bill, according to Social Transformation Minister Dean Jonas, will deal with several issues including unwanted sexual advances and crude sexual behaviour.

“We are working towards establishing legislation on sexual harassment which is modelled from the Caricom and OECS model bills on sexual harassment.

“The model Bill seeks to protect both women and men from unwanted sexual advances, request for sexual favours and crude sexual behaviour that affects the quality of life by creating an intimidating, hostile and offensive environment,” Jonas said.

The Sexual Offences Act of 1995 covers a wide array of offences to include indecent assault, incest, rape, and indecent exposure, but there is no section in the Bill which speaks to sexual harassment.

There have been some legislative advancements, however, with the establishment of the Sexual Offences Court in 2019.

Jonas further mentioned that a WhatsApp support group was previously established to help those persons who, due to Covid-19, were not able to access these services in person.

He added that efforts like these will help in the fight for gender equality and the continued safety of people who are being abused.

Jonas made those comments while he was delivering an address to the nation on the observance of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on Sunday.

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