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Mother makes appeal to have age of consent increased

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The age of consent, which sits at 15 in this country, has once again come up for criticism, this time, by a mother of seven, who says that a lot of men are taking advantage of young girls because the law is allowing them to do so.

The mother, whose children’s ages range from six to 36 (six of them girls), is angry about what transpired with her 15-year-old daughter a few weeks ago, and describes it as heart-wrenching.

The business woman told SEARCHLIGHT that a few weeks ago, she was overseas on a business trip, when she was told that her daughter had run away from home. She said that this was the third time that her daughter had gone missing, but it was the longest that she had ever stayed away.

The 15-year-old returned a week later and according to her mother, investigations showed that she had spent the week with a man in his 20s, somewhere in the vicinity of Kingstown.

“I have some concerns that I hope many persons will agree with…this age of consent that they say teenagers could give consent for a man to have sex with them at 15 years old. I don’t agree with that. I don’t think that 15 years old is enough,” said the mother.

She pointed out that in her opinion, her daughter was taken advantage of on this occasion and on other occasions, but by law, there is nothing she could do about it, because the law says that at 15, a person is legally able to consent to having sex.

Currently, the age of consent is 15 years old, and has been so since 1966 – prior to which, it was 13.

The Indictable Offences Amendment Ordinance (1966) repealed and replaced Sections 79 (1) and 80, making it unlawful, not only to have sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13, but also under the age of 15.

Under current legislation, it is stated that any man who partakes in sexual intercourse with a girl under 13 “is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for life” (Criminal Code, cap 171, Section 124). It is also stated that it is an offence to have sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 15; however, the perpetrator would be liable to be imprisoned for up to five years (Section 125).

“My concern is the age they say the girls could give consent for men to have sex with them…I don’t know who it may concern, if is the Prime Minister or if it is Parnell Campbell…I don’t know who it may concern, but I would like to plead my case that they could carry up the age of consent to around 18 years old,” stressed the businesswoman.

“It pains my body, I am not happy.”

She said that some men act like “animals” and should take into consideration their actions when sleeping with children who, in her opinion, are not sexually mature enough.

“At the age of 15, my daughter leave from home while I gone out to make a living to make them feel happy and comfortable. She went in a man house for a week, until the man throw she out and she came back home. When the man had enough of she, he throw she out. I mean… what kind of a person takes advantage of a young girl like this?” she questioned.

The distraught mother said that what is also troubling is that a young man in his 30s, whom she befriended and had close to her “like a son”, betrayed her and had sex with her daughter.

“Me and this guy was tight and a little black bird tell me he has something with my 15-year-old daughter and I asked her and she told me yes when I asked her. These kinds of men need to go behind bars. It’s a serious problem,” the mother said.

The businesswoman said that this latest episode has caused her great distress, as her daughter was, up to press time, away from school and the school was asking for documents like medical reports and letters from her daughter’s guardians, among other things, in order for her to return to school.

She said that her daughter has since gone to live with her father’s side of the family, so that she can have a change of surroundings, but it hurts knowing her child is away from her. She also said that she wants her story told in an effort to have her voice heard, as she tries to bring attention to the issue that is, to her, “very troubling”.

Last December, SEARCHLIGHT conducted a poll on the issue and 76.56 per cent of persons questioned agreed that the age of consent in St Vincent and the Grenadines should be raised to 18.

SEARCHLIGHT’s survey showed that, of the 529 participants, 8.32 per cent thought the consent age should remain at 15; 6.62 per cent thought it should be raised to 21; and 0.76 per cent believed it should be decreased to 13.

Moreover, 7.75 per cent voted ‘other,’ with the vast majority of these persons saying that the consent age should be 16 or 17.

Minister of National Mobilization, Social Development, Gender Affairs, Persons with Disabilities and Youth Frederick Stephenson also said back in November that he believes that the age of consent should go up.

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