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MP for West Kingstown, opposition lawmaker Daniel Cummings speaking in Parliament on April 4, 2024.
MP for West Kingstown, opposition lawmaker Daniel Cummings speaking in Parliament on April 4, 2024.

An opposition lawmaker has called for a change in the law to allow for mandatory paternity tests of men “associated” with an under-aged girl who becomes pregnant.

Daniel Cummings, MP for West Kingstown, said that such a test should be conducted where there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect that any such man might have had sex with the child.

Cummings made the suggestion on April 4 as lawmakers unanimously approved stiffer penalties for certain sexual offences.

“I join with the Leader of the Opposition [Godwin Friday] in recognizing the importance of going beyond increasing the penalties to make it obvious to our population, that we are seriously concerned with these kinds of criminal activities and, therefore, in the process put mechanisms in place that can really address these vexing issues of sexual offences,” Cummings said.

“… for me, as a man, as a parent, the number of occurrences in this country of young girls going to the hospital and delivering — children of very immature age — is far too frequent, and seems to be happening without anybody being alarmed.”

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The age of consent in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is 15 and Cummings said the Ministry of Health collects that data on the number of underage girls who deliver babies at the nation’s hospitals.

“That’s it. That’s it,” Cummings said.

Data from the Ministry of Health show that while SVG recorded a year-on-year decrease in teen pregnancy in 2023, three of the teen mothers were aged 10 to 14 years.

At the same time, there were 70 pregnancies and 58 deliveries among girls 15 to 17 and 118 pregnancies and 95 deliveries among 18 to 19-year-olds.

Cummings said:

“I am going to make a recommendation to this house which I hope will be listened to and acted upon. I am going to suggest that where a child under the allowable age gets pregnant and has a child at the hospital or at home, or wherever, several steps be taken.”

He told Parliament a child who becomes pregnant must become a ward of the state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, adding that this is the first step.

“Secondly, that like the Proceeds of Crime [Act], where there are reasonable grounds, the members of that household and persons who have been associated with that child must be DNA tested — where there are reasonable grounds,” Cummings said. 

“And once and if there is a connection, that individual must be charged for the crime; must be charged.”

The opposition lawmaker said the state must go further to provide for the welfare of the child and the mother and, where possible and necessary, “make sure that the father is a major contributor to that.

“In fact, I wish to recommend even to go further as is done in the Proceeds of Crime [Act], if the father is of means, to seize property, to seize resources and make it available to ensure that the mother and child are looked after from those resources.”

Cummings had earlier said that he had spoken about the suggestions in other public for a.

“I make this recommendation after very careful consideration,” he told Parliament.

“And I do believe that in our society, we need to send the right signal to act as a deterrent,” he said.

Cummings said a message on deterrence is critical, adding that when he was manager of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority, people would take off their water meters.

“We introduced some very stringent regulations. And I tell you, some of them we never had to use. Some of them as soon as we demonstrated that we were serious. Immediately, we saw a complete change in people’s behaviour,” Cummings said.

“The point is we need to demonstrate to all and sundry that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable. And the state cannot sit by and simply say that six underaged children – children! — had children at the hospital. Because these young ladies don’t have a chance at education,” Cummings said.

He said that the state must ensure that “these victims, as children who become mothers, must be given the necessary support, to continue their education and to become regular citizens in society”.

One reply on “MP wants mandatory DNA tests of men ‘associated’ with girls who become pregnant”

  1. nancysauldemers says:

    Thank you, Mr. Cummings. Effective deterrence, such as the options you suggest (mandatory DNA testing and seizure of property) are long overdue when it comes to sex crimes perpetrated against the girls in this country. The only remaining question is whether or not we really have the political will to actually charge, try and dish out appropriate punishment to those predators among us – both the well-known serial offenders and the first-time perverts.

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