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Sexual offences pt. 2

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Last week the above captioned topic was introduced and the issue of rape was more particularly dealt with. In this article we would continue to look at the topic.

Sexual offences are prosecuted under the Criminal Code of the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Revised Edition, 1990. A preliminary enquiry is conducted “to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to put him on trial in the High Court.”{{more}}

Mention was made of Section 124 which deals with intercourse with a child under the age of thirteen. Any man who commits the crime under this section is liable to imprisonment for life. This is often regarded as statutory rape and is similar to section 125 except that the punishment is different.

Section 125 deals with a man who has intercourse with a girl of or above the age of thirteen and below the age of fifteen. A person who is found guilty of contravening the section is guilty of an offence and is liable to a sentence of five years. However, if “the man is below the age of nineteen and he has not been charged before and at the time of the intercourse he believes the girl to be above the age of fifteen years” then he would not be guilty. However, the defendant is to show that he has reasonable cause for his belief.

A mentally defective woman is also protected under the Criminal Code. A man who has unlawful intercourse with a mentally defective woman is liable to five years imprisonment. The section describes “a mentally defective woman” as one who is “detained under the Mental Health Act and who is shown by the evidence of two medical practitioners to be suffering from serious mental illness, psychopathic disorder or sub normality.” Like the crime under sections 124 and 125 the prosecution must prove that there was sexual intercourse between the man and the complainant. Consent is not an issue as a child under fifteen years or a mentally defective woman cannot give consent.

Indecent assault is another sexual offence under the Criminal Code for which the offender is liable to punishment of imprisonment. If it is carried out on a child under the age of fifteen the punishment is five years imprisonment and on a woman over that age it is two years imprisonment.

The act speaks also to the owner or occupier of premises or one who manages or control premises and who knowingly allows or induces a child under fifteen years to have sexual intercourse on the premises. The person is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment of fourteen years if the girl is under thirteen and seven years if she is under fifteen but above thirteen years.

If a person, notably, a parent or legal guardian or person who has control, custody, care of a child “causes or encourages” a child under fifteen years to become a prostitute or to have sexual intercourse with a man, that person is guilty of a crime and liable to imprisonment for seven years.

Incest is another crime punishable under the Act. This is where a man has sexual intercourse with a person whom he knows to be his granddaughter, daughter or mother. If he is found guilty, he is liable to fourteen years in prison.

• Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.
E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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