UNDP Senior Human Rights Adviser in Jamaica, Birgit Gerstenberg, told a Parliamentary committee meeting at Gordon House yesterday afternoon that the UN was recommending that other forms of penetration be considered such as penetration of the mouth, anal intercourse or penetration by non-sex organs and objects (except for medical purposes).
Policy and Advocacy Manager at J-FLAG, Glenroy Murray, in supporting the proposal told OBSERVER ONLINE that the current definition of sexual intercourse which was crafted in 2009 is “inaccurate”, adding that “it is unfortunate that we have allowed our laws to treat rape of some persons as more severe than rape of others.”
“Having a definition of rape that is accurate and reflective of the ways in which people are raped is essential to guaranteeing equality before the law as provided for in section 13 (3)(g) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms,” Murray argued, adding that this is the only way to equally and adequately protect children, women and men from all forms of sexual violence and abuse.
He argued that the definition of ‘sexual intercourse’ contained in Section 2 of the Sexual Offences Act is explicitly gender and orifice specific, explaining that “sexual intercourse is distinct from anal intercourse and consequently the absence of consent for sexual intercourse connotes the offence of rape, whereas the defence of consent is not available for the crime of anal intercourse (buggery). Similarly, the current definition excludes oral copulation from the rubric of ‘sexual intercourse’ and instead considers it a part of a distinct sexual offence which is ‘grievous sexual assault’”.
He further stated that the revised definition of sexual intercourse should include penetration of the mouth or anus by a penis and penetration of the vagina, anus and mouth by an object except where the penetration is carried out for proper medical purposes.
“J-FLAG has consistently called for an amendment to the Sexual Offences Act to expand protections by formulating a gender and orifice neutral definition which also includes a provision for the manipulation of an object. This means that where one person has sexual intercourse with another person without that person’s consent, the act would constitute the crime of rape, with no distinction based on gender or orifice, and the appropriate penalties can apply”, he ended.
Meanwhile, the UN’s recommendation has left OBSERVER ONLINE readers in a furore, saying that the organization has a “hidden agenda”.
One OBSERVER ONLINE reader said that the recommendation was “utter rubbish” as “sexual intercourse is only via the way of the vagina and penis” and that” those two body parts are the only way that a child can be conceived.”
The reader further warned the Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, and the government to not “fall for this trick by the UN... they have a hidden agenda.”
Another reader, in supporting claims made by the aforementioned reader, said “I back you up here. My exact thought is that they have a hidden agenda. The same way gay male celebrities start wearing pink shirts as silent way of protesting gay rights and some silly people start wearing it talking about ‘a star wear pink’ not knowing the real reasons behind it. Wise up people all these small things are ways to force their dirty life, ungodly lifestyle on our beloved Jamaica.”
Another said, “Watch and see where this is going!! I smell a rat!”
“The lobby mafia is at work again. Another clandestine manoeuvre to change definitions to suit their agenda. Why else would a country's definition of an offence be of such concern? First, they sneak inappropriate materials into text books and handouts, then fund court challenges to change laws. Now using UN bodies as proxy. We can see through your smokescreen,” said another reader.
“Jamaica, hold your ground. The UN is made up of body of people with different sexual preference,” said another.
But amid the uproar, some readers supported the move, with one reader adding that the “article makes good common sense they should go do a redefinition along those lines immediately.”
Another added that, “the law need to change because some of these big men/women are forcing under age boys/girls into doing oral sex. Especially the rapist men dem.”
“I agree” said another reader, “our definition needs to be broadened so that many more people can be convicted for sexual immorality.”