The senate passed the Bill to amend the Sexual Offences Act with 28 amendments.
The passage followed rigorous debate in the Upper House for more than three weeks.
During this morning’s sitting, Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne morning drew the ire of Opposition Senators after she accused former justice ministers K.D. Knight and A.J. Nicholson of failing to provide effective leadership of the justice portfolio.
Senator Lightbourne was hard put to explain why prepared modifications on the Sexual Offences Bill were not submitted to the Senate in a timely manner.
Senator Lightbourne launched a verbal attack on the former Justice Ministers who served during the People’s National Party administration over the 18 year period.
However opposition Senator KD Knight would not allow the Justice Minister’s comments to pass.
Despite Senator Lightbourne’s resistance to Senator Knight’s intervention, he was given the green light by the President of the Senate, Oswald Harding to respond.
Senator Lightbourne later apologized for her ministry’s tardiness.
The proposed statute now gives a definition of rape, as none existed in the Offences Against the Person Act, which covered sexual offences.
The Bill also makes provision for a range of new types of sexual offences, which are not covered under the new definition of rape and makes marital rape a criminal offence.
The amendments deal with, among other things, sexual violations of persons suffering from mental disorders and allowing convicted sex offenders to apply to the court to terminate his or her registration.
Another change seeks to protect victims of sexual offences, and witnesses, from having their names and addresses disclosed in the media.
The Bill, which was passed in the House of Representatives on March 31, seeks to amalgamate various laws relating to incest and other sexual offences.
It also includes provision for a Sex Offenders Registry and a Sex Offenders Register to monitor offenders.