Sex act clears hurdle

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Legislators in the House of Representatives hit the gavel firmly against rapists and other sex criminals when they voted to pass the Sexual Offences Act on Tuesday.

The act, when approved by the Senate, would repeal the Incest Act and certain provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act.

It proposes to make new provisions for the prosecution of rape and other sexual offences and to provide for the establishment of a sex-offender registry. Providing that the Senate green-lights the legislation, a person who commits rape or grievous sexual assault would be liable, on conviction in a circuit court, to imprisonment for life or not less than 15 years.

The revised law also proposes that he must serve 10 years before being eligible for parole.

Meanwhile, a person who is convicted of attempted rape is to be imprisoned for a maximum of 10 years if he used a weapon or instrument considered to be an offensive weapon while attempting the act.

When rape or grievous sexual assault is attempted without an offensive weapon, the maximum sentence will be seven years.

A person convicted of incest is liable for a life sentence, while an attempt to commit the offence incurs a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The act also moves to protect persons with disabilities.

No person who is suffering from a mental disorder or physical disability shall be regarded as being capable of consenting to engage in the act if the person is unable to under-stand what sex is; form a decision as to whether to engage in the act; and to communicate any such decision.