Scotland’s major sex crime reforms
A major shake-up of the law on sexual offences, including a toughening up of rape legislation, has been passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The Sexual Offences Bill will define consent to sex in law, creating a broader statutory offence, including male rape, for the first time.
MSPs also moved to close a loophole in the bill, over Labour fears it could create a “get-out clause for rapists”.
The laws won wide cross-party backing at the final parliamentary hurdle.
The bill aims to tighten up current laws by giving a broader definition of rape and consent based on free agreement.
It sets out a list of circumstances where there can be no free agreement – including a victim being incapable through alcohol.
Guyana – Sexual offences bill finally tabled
rape definition expanded, gender-neutral
The long promised Sexual Offences Bill which proposes a comprehensive overhaul of the current archaic law was tabled in the National Assembly yesterday following sustained calls for urgent reform of the legislation.
The bill, which was read in the name of Human Services Minister Priya Manickchand, was sent to a select committee for further deliberations. Its tabling comes after lengthy countrywide discussions on the subject especially regarding the current system’s inability to offer adequate protection to women and children who are victims of sexual abuse.Escalating violence, including sexual violence, against women and children and the absence of the bill on the parliamentary agenda had prompted a sustained protest by the Coalition to Stamp out Sexual Violence Against Children which routinely picketed the Office of the President. The body accused the administration of “foot-dragging” on important legislation and it continuously pressed for the bill to be placed high on the “political agenda”.
Prior to the coalition’s initiative, the Guyana Human Rights Association had made significant contributions to the sexual reform debate, specifically outlining recommendations with regard to the offence of rape.
The new bill proposes wide-ranging reform of the legislation on sexual violence currently on the books and proposes to change quite a few of them, and at the same time definitively spells out the rights of victims of sexual abuse — raising much needed awareness. It mentions too the establishment of a National Task Force for Prevention of Sexual Violence to address implementation.
One of the more critical aspects of the bill is that it proposes making the criminal offence of rape gender-neutral to include sexual assault on boys and men. The bill is also seeking to bring the offence of rape in line with reform around the world and is therefore maximizing protection by widening the definition.
Section 3 of the proposed legislation says that a person commits the offence of rape if that person (the accused) intentionally engages in sexual penetration with another person (the complainant) or intentionally causes the complainant to engage in sexual penetration with a third person. It is also rape if the complainant does not consent to the penetration, and if the accused does not reasonably believe that the complainant consents.
This new definition caters for any offensive activity as it defines penetration as “any intrusion however slight and for however short a time, of any part of a person’s body or of any object into the vagina or anus of another person, and any contact, however slight, between the mouth of one person and the genitals or anus of another, including but not limited to sexual intercourse…”