Isn't this a criminal offence?

Stabroek News

May 23, 2004

Related Links: Letters on abducted 13 year old
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Dear Editor,

Is there any reason why this "Businessman" has not been charged for having carnal knowledge of a minor and kidnapping, or are there no such laws in the legal system in Guyana? What in the name of hell is going on in this country?

Yours faithfully,

Richard Lewis


Editor's note:

Sections 69 and 70 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act read as follows:

"69. (1) Everyone who unlawfully and carnally knows any girl of or above the age of twelve years and under the age of thirteen years shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and liable to imprisonment for five years.

(2) It shall be a sufficient defence to any indictment under this section if it is made to appear to the Court or jury that the accused person had reasonable cause to believe that the girl was of or above the age of thirteen years.

70. Everyone who unlawfully and carnally knows any girl under the age of twelve years, whether he believes her to be of or above the age or not, shall be guilty of felony and liable to imprisonment for life."

The age of consent, twelve, is so young because in the old days Indian girls sometimes got married very young. That is no longer the case. Under Section 32 of the Marriage Act the minimum age for marriage by a female is now 14 and the consent of the guardian is required where the child is under 18.

There has been talk of changing the laws for years but nothing has been done. If, therefore, a girl of thirteen or over consents to sex (which is a matter of evidence) it may not be a criminal offence in Guyana. Below that age, it is even if there is consent (statutory rape, as it is called). In other countries that minimum age is 16.

Whether detaining a minor against the wishes of the guardian constitutes kidnapping or abduction or any other crime is a matter for the police to investigate.