Gender neutral rape bill has flaws and omissions

Three widely recognized and well respected attorneys of the Bar Association of Belize have come out and expressed their outright discontent with the bill seeking to amend the criminal code of Belize. This includes President of the Bar Association Eamon Courtney, Gian Ghandi and Audrey Matura Shepherd. Furthermore, there is an 8 page document which details all the things that the Bar Association- a group of well trained and educated legal minds- find worrisome about this amendment bill to the Criminal Code. According to the Amandala, Gian Ghandi pointed to several flaws in the new definition of rape, including that it does not cover sexual offenses committed by women against men, particularly against young children, apart from the omission of a provision to cover marital rape.. It also contains a provision where it speaks of “reasonable belief” of a person’s consent as a defence against a rape allegation. A man may then use marriage, an agreement by which the parties give themselves to each other, as a defence against marital rape. Audrey Matura-Sheppard, called in on Wednesday morning’s Rise and Shine show where she briefly highlighted a few of her concerns regarding the proposed bill. She explains that the bill does not address the circumstance where a woman imposes herself on a boy.

vlcsnap-2013-10-31-07h29m08s30Ms. Audrey Matura Shepherd- Attorney at Law

“I am not satisfied at the law adequately addresses the rape of a boy, and when I say “the rape of a boy”, I don’t mean sodomy because Section 53 already addresses sodomy on that one of a boy, or anybody-male, female child or adult.   What it doesn’t address are situations where women impose themselves sexually on young boys.   I talk about this for a sad experience because, as an attorney, I have clients dealing with that nature of issues; and I have to tell them clearly sadly, you can’t take anybody to court for the rape of your son.   It is not even under some Aggravated Assault or indecent assault, so that’s one of the reasons I have”.

Audrey Matura-Sheppard also noted that marital rape is also not addressed in this the proposed amendment. Furthermore, that section 53 already addresses sodomy of any nature including that of children and that while the Prime Minister already stated his position on the homosexual agenda and the Minister’s wife has made a speech on National Day of Homophobia they National Day of Abuse of Children is being addressed

Ms. Audrey Matura Shepherd:  “Section 53 already deals with sodomy of any of any person, including or a child, and when they now, changed the Rape Law of the penetration of any person and so, and then they put it as Aggravated Assault, I am not saying that have told me to address that now.  I have been saying the timing and the lack of comprehensive nature of it and to see you are doing it into what is happening, the decision has not come forward yet; the Prime Minister has already stated what is his position on the homosexual agenda; what he calls policy; the Prime Minister’s wife has gone on record and giving a speech on the International Day of Homophobia, but they don’t talk about the International Day of Abuse of Children, which are the other things I would like her to talk about”.

Our host of Rise and Shine Louis Wade Jr. asked Audrey Matura-Sheppard if she believes issues that the which the Bar Association, the Church, and the general public have tabled out will be addressed between now and Friday, where it is believed the bill will have its final verdict. Her answer was a resounding no.

Mr. Louis Wade- Director of PLUS TV:  “Do you foresee between today when they have a committee meeting on Friday.   The issues which appear to be some of them to be very technical and legal in nature, will they work those out and the Prime Minster present this on Friday?”

Ms. Audrey Matura Shepherd:  “I doubt they have time to do it.  I know I’m not the Prime Minister’s best adviser; he does not like to listen to what I say.   I strongly advise him at this point; he has enough bubbling in his pops.   As of buffet, this he should take this aside for further consultations and better amendments and then present it in more comprehensive.   I mean, it in deal with back faith and it is very lacking in a lot of this”.

Eamon Courtney also made a statement. The Amandala recorded the following”President of the Bar Association, Eamon Courtenay told Amandala that In making certain sexual offenses gender neutral, there are more concerns. He questioned the possible adverse effect of the change from unlawful carnal knowledge to unlawful sexual intercourse – in a manner which would make both parties culpable, whereas the current provisions make only the male culpable. Eamon Courtenay notes that they actually reduced penalties in other instances, such as incest and kidnapping. Courtenay expressed concerns that the Bill is really not easy to read, and contains multiple grammatical and construction errors.” The Amandala also spoke with Gian Ghandi. According to them, Mr Ghandi pointed to several flaws in the new definition of rape, including that it does not cover sexual offenses committed by women against men, particularly against young children, apart from the omission of a provision to cover marital rape.. It also contains a provision where it speaks of “reasonable belief” of a person’s consent as a defence against a rape allegation. A man may then use marriage, an agreement by which the parties give themselves to each other, as a defence against marital rape.

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