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Aug 18, 2016

What Does Section 53 Law Now Criminalize?

Dean Barrow

The sexual abuse of a minor by his sixteen-year-old sibling last Friday, during which the eleven-year-old boy was sodomized by an older brother is most unfortunate.  The timeliness of the incident, in the wake of a landmark decision in the Section Fifty-three challenge, has certainly added to the confusion surrounding the Supreme Court judgment.  That mix-up has since led to misinterpretation of what the amended law does and does not permit.  PM Barrow explains the scope of that revised section of the Criminal Code.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“There was a case in the last few days of reports of a sixteen-year-old sodomizing his younger brother, an eleven-year-old, and I heard people on the radio saying, “well nothing can happen to the sixteen-year-old because government has changed the law and that’s now legal.”  Again, I want to be extremely measured, we’re not here to quarrel with a soul this afternoon but we have to make a plea for people to, if it is at all humanly possible, put aside the emotion in terms of getting at what the ruling does and does not do.  Apart from, and that’s why the attorney general was careful to talk about consensual sexual acts because the law didn’t just criminalize homosexual acts in terms of what you would describe as sodomy, anal intercourse between a man and his wife was criminalized by that section.  So let us be clear, all the Chief Justice has done is to say that consensual sexual acts between adults who are well capable of consenting will no longer have to face any prospect of a criminal sanction.  Rape is still rape, whether it is forcible rape committed by one adult on another or whether it is statutory rape in the case of an adult and a minor, a minor cannot consent.  So going back to the case of the sixteen-year-old who was accused of, in effect, incest and rape with respect to his younger brother; all the force of the law proscribing, criminalizing those sorts of actions remains entirely valid and applicable.”

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