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Opposition Leader Godwin Friday in aJan. 9, 2024 photo.
Opposition Leader Godwin Friday in aJan. 9, 2024 photo.
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Opposition Leader Godwin Friday has restated his support for increasing the age of consent, saying that while 15 “definitely” is “too low”, the new age should be decided after consultation with the public.

Speaking on WE FM today (Monday), the opposition leader said his view as well as that of his New Democratic Party and the public is that the age should be increased.

“As to the exact age, that is something, of course, that can be discussed as well,” Friday said, adding that some countries in the region have set it at 16 while others are at 17.

“If you look around the world, you will find that between 16 and 17 tends to be around what the higher level is,” Friday said, noting that some people have called for it to be 18 while others have said 21.

“But this is something I believe that we must have some public discussion about it. But definitely, I agree 15 is too low and it should be raised.”

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Friday said the NDP has discussed the matter.

“And the proposal is between 16 and 17, which is the age group that most people are talking — 16 and 18. But again, I would prefer to have a more broader public discussion on the issue, not just the age of consent.”

He said the age of consent is “critically important, but the whole problem of sexual violence in our society and the abuse of girls and women and so forth that you find is too prevalent in St. Vincent and Grenadines as a broader question that should be addressed as well”.

The opposition leader said that the NDP had canvassed the issue in its discussions about crime, adding that the age of consent is an important part of that discussion.

“But what I believe …should be done and has been lacking is that you should have forums where these matters are addressed by persons who have expressed their views about it, persons who are affected,” Friday said.

“You’re thinking about school teachers, church leaders, ordinary people, young people, and so on.’

He suggested fora like town hall meetings and presentations by expert groups.

“Because this is something that is not just affecting you in St. Vincent. There are other countries in the Caribbean who have looked at it as well and looked more broadly at how you deal with the problem of crime, sexual crimes and so forth against women and girls.”

He said the fora can give people a chance to express their views.

Friday said he has even heard talk of increasing the age of consent to 21. “I don’t think that that is practical. But certainly, between the ages of 16 and 18 is where most opinions are expressed.”

He said the High Court arraignment list shows that sexual offences are “a very serious and pervasive problem” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“And so, there needs to be a general review of sexual offences,” Friday said, noting that the matter came up during the debate on stiffer penalties for some sexual offences approved by Parliament on April 4.

“And our proposal still is, my preference is to have a special legislation that deals with sexual offences rather than just as part of the Criminal Code, which includes the definition of the offences but also sets out like policy statements as to how these offences are to be dealt with,” the opposition leader said.

“And then there is an entire apparatus of how you investigate, how you deal with the victims of these crimes and so forth,” Friday further said, adding, “So, it’s a more comprehensive approach.

“That is what I believe we should be moving towards, it’s not reinventing the wheel, because other countries have similar types of legislation or approaches. And that’s something we can learn from, and I think it’s the way to go.”

Friday said the problem in SVG “is that we are moving from a stage where sex crimes have been very underplayed in our society in terms of how people regard them.

“People regard these things as just sex and it’s been going on and you have the abuses in the homes, you have abuses from people in different levels of power, in various offices. We’re going all the way from rape to sexual harassment in the workplace, which we don’t hear much of.

“And that is something that also needs to be addressed as a general approach in the society to dealing with these very serious offences.”

Friday called for a change in mindset to regard sexual offences as serious crimes.

“… they are very harmful and we don’t quite have that mentality. And that has to be educational, you start with everybody in schools, and so forth,” Friday said.

He described as old fashioned “this reluctance to talk about sexual health and sexual violence and how you relate with one another”.

The opposition leader said these are important matters, adding, “we have to be much more open with our youngsters, our children, and so on, and have them better educated as to how to present and protect themselves, but also how to treat others and to recognise that these are very, very damaging and serious offences.

“So, I would look to have a more comprehensive approach to dealing with the problem.”

During the April 4 parliamentary review of the penalties for some sex crimes, Friday also called for the age of consent to be revised.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on radio on April 10, said he saw a stronger case for moving the age of consent from 15 to 16, where it was in the 1960s.

“Now the general public in an informed way could have a conversation on this,” Gonsalves said on NBC Radio when asked about the issue. 

2 replies on “Age of consent should be between 16 and 18 — Opposition Leader”

  1. Stupid Vincy says:

    Another waste of time discussion. Do the bulk of the commonwealth countries have a 16 year old age of consent. Which perverts changed it to 15 in the first place. And Vincy thought that was a good idea. Listen its people’s children you are messing with. In any other country some of you would be held accountable for messing with their kids. Stop the stupid distractions and sort the real problems out. Vincy is full of problems. What a pathetic waste of time and common sense. Is it Ralph’s decision again?

  2. Kalik Crick says:

    Why are you so angry in your postings? The topic is about raising the age of consent, I do hope that you’re not messing with any 15 year old out there presently.

Comments closed.