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Jun 25, 1999

Marital rape bill presented

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Also in the House today Minister of Human Development, Women and Youth, Dolores Balderamos Garcia presented a bill seeking stricter and more consistent penalties for child molesters and another making marital rape a crime under certain conditions.

Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development

“We are similarly concerned about molestation whether it be of a girl or a boy. But in relation to the raising of penalties for carnal knowledge of a female child, what we’re doing is we’re rationalizing the penalties across the board.

As you know, the way the law was, there could be a vast difference in the sentencing of an individual between whether the child was twelve or eleven or thirteen and we don’t see that as appropriate at all at this point. So we’re saying that once the child is below fourteen there is going to a be an eight year minimum penalty but of course it could go as high as life imprisonment if the child is very young.

The more important provision or circumstance that we are seeking to address and it is in the law is rape in the context of a physical assault, an assault, a battery, a harm or an injury to the spouse. And we’re very serious about that. The way the law is right now, a husband could kick his wife down the stairs, break her leg and then rape her but the wife would not be able to charge the husband with rape. But what we are seeking to do now is say look, in this specific circumstance, which we find extremely abhorrent, we’re going to introduce the offense of marital rape, even if the parties are under the same roof.”

Balderamos-Garcia is also seeking to raise the age of criminal responsibility for children from seven to nine years old. However, if a child older than nine commits a crime, an in-trial investigation will be held to ascertain whether they can be held responsible for their actions. This move is to make Belize’s laws more consistent with international conventions that say it is impossible for a seven year old to have criminal intent.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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