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Jul 30, 1999

U.D.P. questions need for conditions for marital rape

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While the Public Utilities Commission may have an impact on the Belizean pocketbook, reducing crimes against women and children is the purpose of another Bill presented by Minister of Human Development Women and Youth Dolores Balderamos Garcia. The amendment to the Criminal Code, which was introduced at a previous House meeting, regularizes the penalties for the unlawful carnal knowledge of children which currently vary depending on the age of the child. It also raises the age of criminal responsibility from seven to nine and provides for the offense of marital rape. The marital rape charge, however, can only be filed under certain conditions such as when the couple has already separated or are filing for divorce, if there is abuse or if the husband is aware he has a venereal disease. Leader of the Opposition Dean Barrow said while he supports all of the amendments introduced, he questions the need for specific conditions under which marital rape can occur.

Dean Barrow, Leader of the Opposition, U.D.P.

“Madame Speaker, I wonder if it might not have been easier simply to remove the current impediment in the law which makes it impossible for a wife to charge a husband with rape. As things now stand it seems that the fact of marriage confers a kind of inherent legal consent and that would have meant whether you are married or not married if a woman is forced to have sexual intercourse against her will it’s rape pure and simple.”

Other bills passed today include the National Institute of Culture and History Bill, the Belize National Tourism Council Bill, and the Agricultural Health Authority Bill to regulate agricultural and quarantine services. Among the bills introduced for the first time are the amendment to the Commercial Free Zone, the Caribbean Free Movement of Skilled Persons Bills and the amendment to the Firearms Act to better regulate firearms and gun licenses.

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