Legislation for age of consent being drafted
- Minister Shadick says interest groups opposed raising age
Kaieteur News

June 8, 2004

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Government has been reviewing legislation for the age of consent over the past two years but met with opposition from some interest groups, who were against raising the minimum age to 16.

Minister of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, Bibi Shadick disclosed this, yesterday.

A Government Information Agency report, yesterday, quoted Shadick as saying “…the Ministry is actively pursuing legislation to raise the age of consent”.

According to the Minister, the legislation is currently being drafted and will be tabled in the National Assembly soon.

The opposition by some of the interest groups to raise the age from 13 to 16 is one of the hurdles encountered, she said.

The Minister also disclosed that government is looking to put measures in place to protect children from abusive parents.

Over the weekend, President Bharrat Jagdeo also renewed government’s commitment to raise the age of consent.

The Guyana Human Rights Association will be holding a discussion forum this afternoon at 16:00hrs on the subject.

Over the past week, several interest groups and women’s organisations have been urging government to act swiftly to raise the age of consent from the current age of 13.

In a press release issued yesterday, the West Berbice Chamber of Industry and Commerce stated that the current law that allows sexual activity at the age of 13 is highly immoral and not acceptable in a modern society.

“The Chamber is saddened by the fact that some non-governmental organisations and political parties have been using the ‘Reeaz Khan’ issue to their own advantage, taking into consideration that the rights of a child have been violated,” the release said.

The Chamber has noted that the media has been publishing various cases of sexual violation meted out to children in Guyana but this is the first instance of public awareness to such an extent.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, said 13 years is not an appropriate age for any child to be engaged in sexual activities.

He stated that a medical and scientific approach should be taken, instead of a cultural and moral position.

Data has shown that the earlier engagement in sexual activities is a risk factor to acquiring cervical cancer.