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Sex crimes and young people
Schools and homes are becoming hot spots for many sex crimes committed against and by youths in T&T. Let us take a crisp look at the relevant laws (Act No 27 of 1986 and amended in 1994 and 2000). This information should be made widely available to schools, families and communities so it may have at least a deterrent effect.
Governmental and non-governmental agencies have key roles to play and should step up to their duty to protect our young, vulnerable ones. This matter speaks further to the larger issue of sex education in schools and its significance in reducing sex crimes—something we have been dodging for a long while.
1. Sexual intercourse with female under 14 years:
Where a male has sexual intercourse with a female who is not his wife and who is under 14 years, he is guilty whether the female consented or whether or not at the time of the intercourse he believed her to be 14 years or more. Punishment is life imprisonment.
2. Sexual intercourse with female between 14 and 16 years:
Where a male has sexual intercourse with a female who is not his wife with her consent and who has attained the age of 14 but not yet attain 16, he is guilty. For the first offence, the punishment is 12 years imprisonment. For subsequent offences, it is 15 years imprisonment.
A male will not be convicted here if he honestly believed the female was 16 years or older; and if the male is not more than three years older than the female and the court believes that he is not wholly to be blamed.
3. Sexual intercourse with male under 16 years:
Where a female adult has sexual intercourse with a male who is not her husband and who is under 16 years, she is guilty whether or not the male agreed to the intercourse. Punishment is five years imprisonment. The female is not guilty here if she honestly believed the male was 16 years or older and if the female adult is not more than three years older than the male and if the court believed that she is not wholly to be blamed.
Here, a person has sexual intercourse with another person where there is blood relationship which include his/her parents, child, brother, sister, grandparents, uncle, aunt, niece and nephew.
Punishments: If committed by an adult with a person under 14 years, life imprisonment. If committed by an adult with a person 14 years or more, life imprisonment. If committed between minors 14 years or more, two years imprisonment.
5. Sexual intercourse with adopted minor:
This is a crime where an adult has sexual intercourse with a minor who is the adult's adopted child, stepchild, foster child, ward or dependent in the adult's custody.
Punishments: If committed with a minor under 14 years, life imprisonment. If committed with a minor 14 years old and more, 25 years imprisonment.
6. Mandatory reporting of suspected abuse of minors:
Did you know that any person who is the parent or guardian of a minor: has actual custody, charge or control of a minor; has temporary custody, care or control of a minor for a special purpose, as his attendant, employer or teacher, or in any other capacity; is a medical practitioner or a registered nurse or midwife and has performed a medical exam in respect of a minor—and who has reasonable grounds for believing that a sexual offence has been committed in respect of that minor, shall report the grounds for his belief to a police officer as soon as reasonable practical?
$15,000 or seven years imprisonment or both. There are provisions to protect the person making the report from all liability, etc.
Where a person prevents a minor from giving a statement to the police or testifying relating to a sexual offence, the punishment is $20,000 and 10 years imprisonment.
A minor who in a written statement tendered into evidence knows to be false or does not believe to be true, can be sent to the Youth Training Camp or a similar institution for one year.
A person who procures a minor under 16 years to have sexual intercourse with any person is liable to 15 years imprisonment.
8. Householder permitting defilement of minor under 16 years:
A person who is an owner, occupier or manager of premises or having control of or assists in such, permits a minor under 16 years to be in the premises to have sexual intercourse with any person is liable to 10 years imprisonment.
Our legislation outlines stern punishments for people who commit sex crimes on young people. Critical issues now are: How do we (a) prevent the occurrence of these crimes, (b) encourage victims to come forward, (c) get successful prosecutions, and (d) assist both victim and offender.
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