Let’s Talk Law and Sex!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By David R. Francis 3)

“If you give a woman al­co­hol or any other drug with the in­ten­tion of stu­pe­fy­ing her and she is in fact stu­pe­fied, she can­not give con­sent. Peo­ple who ob­tain sex in this way risk suf­fer­ing the same fate as those who hold women down and have sex by force. Sex with­out con­sent is rape.”

Sex is a touchy sub­ject – one minute of plea­sure could lead to a life­time of re­gret. Aside from the usual wor­ries, preg­nancy and the pos­si­bil­ity of con­tract­ing a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­ease there is also the very real is­sue of con­sent. It is es­sen­tial that a woman gives her un­equiv­o­cal and un­am­bigu­ous con­sent be­fore any form of in­ter­course.

A video of a woman hav­ing sex in a room with sev­eral men in the vicin­ity went vi­ral re­cently. In the video the woman’s hands and feet are bound and she smokes what ap­peared to be co­caine, while hav­ing sex with one or more of the men in the room. Through­out the video she seems to re­quest the sex­ual en­counter and also ap­pears a will­ing par­tic­i­pant, but this is a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion for all the men in­volved. Whether she had the pres­ence of mind to con­sent to sex­ual in­ter­course ini­tially, and whether she had the pres­ence of mind to con­tinue hav­ing con­sen­sual sex af­ter smok­ing the sub­stance is de­bat­able. De­spite her words, the men who had sex with her opened them­selves up to the pos­si­bil­ity that she would come down from the ef­fects of the sub­stance she smoked and claim that she had been raped.

Sim­i­lar sce­nar­ios are not un­com­mon in Saint Lucia, or abroad. Many young men sat­u­rate women with al­co­hol in an at­tempt to fi­nesse con­sent. If you give a woman al­co­hol or any other drug with the in­ten­tion of stu­pe­fy­ing her and she is in fact stu­pe­fied, she can­not give con­sent. Peo­ple who ob­tain sex in this way risk suf­fer­ing the same fate as those who hold women down and have sex by force. Sex with­out con­sent is rape.

It is pos­si­ble for a hus­band to rape a wife as well. Do not for a sec­ond think that be­cause you are mar­ried you no longer need to ob­tain con­sent. The House of Lords in the United King­dom ruled on the mat­ter as re­cently as 1991 in the case of R v R.

There are in­stances in which con­sent though ob­tained may be ren­dered in­ef­fec­tive. Un­der sec­tion 123 (2) of the Crim­i­nal Code of Saint Lucia con­sent though ob­tained is of no ef­fect in the fol­low­ing cir­cum­stances: 1. where con­sent is ob­tained by force, whether to the per­son with whom in­ter­course is be­ing had or some­one else 2. where threats are used to ob­tain con­sent 3. where the per­son de­sir­ing sex has im­per­son­ated 4. where a per­son in au­thor­ity uses said au­thor­ity to ob­tain con­sent 5. where there is a mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion about the na­ture of the act (for ex­am­ple where some­one claims to be able to re­move demons through in­ter­course) 6. where con­sent is ob­tained through the ad­min­is­tra­tion of drugs, with the in­tent to stu­pefy or over­power the woman 7. where in­tim­i­da­tion of any kind is used.

The penalty for rape in St. Lucia is life in prison. The is­sue of age of con­sent is an­other mat­ter al­to­gether. It is com­mon knowl­edge that the age of con­sent in St. Lucia is six­teen (16) for any per­son. No mat­ter how old he/she looks be sure to ask for an I.D. card be­cause sex with a per­son be­low the age of con­sent may re­sult in pros­e­cu­tion.

It is a shame­ful re­al­ity that in some in­stances par­ents en­cour­age their chil­dren to have sex with older per­sons, but what are the risks th­ese per­sons take when hav­ing sex with mi­nors?

There are two lev­els to the of­fense of hav­ing sex with a per­son un­der the age of 16. The first is in the cir­cum­stance where the young per­son is un­der twelve (12) years old; the penalty for sex with a per­son un­der 12 is life in prison. Once the age of the young per­son is proven, and it is also proven that pen­e­tra­tion did in fact oc­curr, the of­fense is made out. It is not a de­fense to say that one be­lieved that the child was older.

The sec­ond level is where sex is had with a per­son who is be­tween 12 years old and four­teen 14 years old. The penalty for this of­fense is 15 years in prison. It is a de­fense for a per­son who is less than 21 years old to state that the sex was con­sen­sual, he rea­son­ably be­lieved that she was over the age of 16 and that he/she has not been charged with such an of­fense pre­vi­ously.

In Switzer­land, a man was con­victed of rape for re­mov­ing his con­dom with­out the woman’s con­sent dur­ing in­ter­course. The prac­tice is called stealth­ing and seems to be an ex­pan­sion of the rules of con­sent in that coun­try. The charge was later re­duced from rape and the De­fen­dant was placed on a 12 month sus­pended sen­tence for his con­duct.

Some other sex­ual of­fenses and their penal­ties are as fol­lows: 1) In­de­cent as­sault - which can carry a penalty of be­tween three (3) and fif­teen (15) years in prison de­pend­ing on the age of the vic­tim. 2) In­de­cent Act - which is de­fined as ex­pos­ing one’s gen­i­tals to a mi­nor and car­ried a penalty of up to ten (10) years in prison. Gross in­de­cency – which is de­fined as an act other than sex­ual in­ter­course by a per­son in­volv­ing the use of one’s gen­i­tals for the pur­pose of arous­ing or grat­i­fy­ing sex­ual de­sire but does not in­clude acts done by con­sent­ing adults in a pri­vate place. Gross in­de­cency car­ries a sen­tence of up to ten (10) years in prison 4) Bug­gery – which is de­fined as sex­ual in­ter­course per anus by a male with an­other male per­son and car­ries a max­i­mum penalty of life in prison in a case where the act was per­pe­trated with­out con­sent and ten (10) years with con­sent. 5) Bes­tial­ity - sex­ual in­ter­course per anus or per vaginum by a male or fe­male per­son with an an­i­mal and car­ries a max­i­mum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and the court has an ad­di­tional power to com­mit the of­fender to a psy­chi­atric ward. Any per­son who causes an­other per­son to com­mit bes­tial­ity is li­able on con­vic­tion to a sen­tence of up to 25 years.

All this to show that there are very real penal­ties for com­mit­ting sex crimes, even when some in our midst ap­pear con­ve­niently ig­no­rant of the law. You do the crime, you serve the time!

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