[Re-post] Cavehill Corner: The Transition between Shores, Life of a Cavehill Student

official-jamaica-flagbarbados-flagforeign exchange student

Name of Student: Romane Duncan

Year of Study: Second

Faculty: Law

Campus: University of the West Indies, Cavehill

  1. What’s the first thing you thought when you arrived in BIM[1]?

Uhm…why does this this place look exactly like Jamaica; the Caribbean is so similar!

  1. Tell me about your biggest culture shock.

So, its not that the customer service is bad, but it’s slow! So I think it’s just a cultural thing, we Jamaicans are probably too impatient! Definitely learning to take a chill pill!

  1. What’s the main difference between Cave Hill/Barbados and Mona/Jamaica? You

Mona is a 24hrs hub, full of life and food at any time of day (Nardo’s), Cave Hill calms after 8pm and if you want food, you know it’s a walk to the beloved Esso!

  1. The weather in BIM is beautiful! It changes more than chameleon’s skin. You always need a jacket as it rains for 1 minute periods! Keeping the temperature cool! It moves from one extreme to the next in seconds though.
  2. Law in BIM is great actually. I mean, I feel like my lecturers are equipped to deliver the content but these lecturers may mark harder. And the schedule is way more stable than at Mona. Cancelled classes are seldom.
  3. What are the main differences between courses taught at Cave Hill and those taught at Mona?

POLICY. As a proud Matthewsian (Hi Miss), I pride myself in seeking the policy behind the law, it’s not that important here!

  1. Describe your weirdest course/lecturer/tutor.

Sampson Owusu. He is just the best, he has a Ghanan accent which adds a new dimension to the technical area of Real Property. Just hearing him say ‘Ray-al Prropaaahtee’, you are interested and want to learn more. And who can doubt him when he was quoted by the Privy Council!

  1. How does it feel to be the last Jamaican group on the Cave Hill-Mona law programme?

I feel like I am being afforded the best opportunity! This idea of Caribbean integration is at the ambit of this programme and to be the last group saddens me. I feel like closing the programme sets us one step backward in achieving a unified Caribbean. Oh and plus every single, deggeh deggeh island is represented here, the true idea of a melting pot, bet yuh neva eat fig pie!!!


  1. Describe hall life. Does it differ greatly from hall life at Mona?

Uhm…it depends on the hall you live on! So lived on Rex at Mona (mi say a who dem??? Rex Reeeex Nettleford!) where I am used to my own space. It is very similar to Frank Worrel here! But here, I am a Sherlockite(All hail King Fattercock!), it has an amazing family life and definitely where the hype is at! Oh and in the Hall’s battle we destroyed the pussycats of Worrel! So, it’s a change for me (but it’s based on where I was).

  1. How involved are you in on campus activities?

Well, I won both the Inter-Island Debate and Public Speaking Competitions for Jamaica!!! Hip hip? I am an International Mooter going to Rio de Janeiro 2015! And I am an honorary Antiguan! Oh and I act every now and again! #caribbeannational #reallyinvolved

  1. Would you say you’ve become more patriotic since being in BIM?

Oh Gosh! A me say back a yahd! Yes!!! We rep Jamaica though! I get to be an ambassador for the great Nanny as well as for the rushing waters of Dunns River Falls! Blue Drawz?

  1. Do you seize all opportunity to promote Jamaican culture? Is it well received?

Every single one! I have to let them know we are not as violent as we seem to be! That we are really a hospitable people who love farrinas! And the foooooood! Yes they love it! We love it! Yup Jamaica body tun up! Yeah and everybody says Jamaican bad words hoping I’ll be impressed! (I’m not).

  1. Do you miss anything about Mona? If yes, what?

The life! The buzz! My friends! My PLAY foundation! 434 Rex Nettleford Hall! The random gazebos with electricity and WiFi! The 24 hrs library! The law faculty! On time taxi services!!! And the food outlets on campus that are affordable! I now pause to appreciate how convenient it is to buy food at Mona.

  1. How often do you feel homesick? What do you do to rid yourself of the feeling?

Not very often, but Bajan food is an acquired taste (I haven’t acquired itL). So, it becomes really difficult when you want some serious Sunday dinner or our Devon House I-scream delicacy or a hot patty from Tastees…but other than crying (lol), I skype a friend, eat a spoon of Jamaican Chocolate mix and play some yardie music! Nb. Don’t judge me! Mi awrite!

  1. If a Mona student decides to spend a semester at Cave Hill, what is one thing s/he must absolutely do in BIM?

Go on a Catamaran cruise! It is amazing! The country is beautiful and clean and you won’t be certain if you are vacationing or studying! I mean Mona is not near the beach so it a whole new experience! Turn down for what?

Shereese Graham

Second Year Law Student,

Faculty of Law, UWI Mona

Contributor, Mona Law Precedent

Member, Publications Committee

©Shereese Graham

[1] Nickname for Barbados

*This was re-posted (with apologies) as the author’s name (Shereese Graham) was spelled incorrectly.

Creative Corner: Can I be this?- Cannabis

Hemp-Fuzion-Hair-Conditionermarijuana-legalization-news1-750x739

Roll mi, squeeze mi, caress me, and undress mi,

Mi love dress inna white, but brown work tuh,

If yu need a high, check out di flights

Wedda yu like it, slow, fast, medium, even if yu shy

Jus’ waan kno se yu ready fi di ride

Some love fi put me inna a pipe

One ting maah tell yu, look out fi di stripes

Stars, cymbals, music nice,

Wateva yu waan mi be, am di choice,

I can be dis, I can be dat

Hol’ on de, mek mi show yu a vibes

Estás listo? A Spanish dat

Êtes-vous prêt ? French Dat! I can be your wildest dream,

den nuh English dat Mi nuh major inna di minor, mi nuh b-flat

Check out me roots, a Zion dat Mi have nuff name,

Mi have nuff character Weed, Cannabis, Ganja, Marijuana, 50 bag, 1

00 bag, 2 ounce, one poun’

Mi open doors, mi close yeye lids Me sleep inna sheet, an’ mi mek yu waan an’ skid

Check me out,me a guh mek history Doctors, Scientists, Prime Ministers se mi is a mystery

Me tell yu mi can be any ting yu waan’ De ya wait pan mi Attorney, fi set me up neat and straight

Suh mi can de every weh, even pan u lawn,

Nuh worry bout Baby lan’ a knock pan yu gate Look how long unnu did de ya wait

Mi tell yu se me bad, me tell yu se me great,

Mi have nuff fans, and whole heap a hate

One ting mi a tell yu before me evacuate, If yu waan’ fly; check mi at a later date!!!!

Saskia Barton

Second Year Law Student

Faculty of Law, UWI Mona

Contributor, Mona Law Precedent

Member, Publications Committee

© Saskia Barton, 2014

Amendment of the Law Regarding the Age of Consent in Jamaica

sex-education-for-teens

If you have been watching the news in recent times, you would have seen that one of the hot topic debates has been the issue of whether or not the age of consent for sexual activity in Jamaica should be raised[1].

Our current authority for this law is found in section 4 (3) (b) of the Sexual Offences Act which states that any of the sexual acts specified in the statute would be considered illegal once carried out on anyone below the age of 16 years[2]. Interestingly, one could consider this statue contradictory given the fact that within its opening section the SOA defines a “child” as anyone under the age of 18 years[3].

However, before we descend into the arena of debate which will most likely be fuelled by our own views of morality and personal idealisms, we must examine why this has become an issue yet again and what it would possibly mean legally and socially if this law was amended.

The Age of Consent issue

The proposal for raising the age of consent was brought before parliament by the head of the Office of the Children’s Registry, Diahnn Gordon-Harrison who felt that this would be the best solution to protect the most vulnerable members of our society; our children. She gave a number of reasons that the passing of this law would be beneficial to society, namely:

  1. The current state of the law does not allow for many of the older offenders who take advantage of the younger members of society to be criminalised as they are relieved of liability once the 16 year old says that they have consented.
  2. The amendment would give these young members of society (particularly 16 year old females) the opportunity to abstain for longer periods of time as the law could be used as a tool to ward off those who would want to tempt them into having sex.
  3. This could redound into reducing the amount of teenage pregnancies which tends to show a large increase once young girls become 16.
  4. Additionally, a caveat would be put in place for those who have sex underage with other teenagers, that is, the ‘close in age law’.

These all seem like valid considerations as we cannot ignore the state of our society today. The Jamaican landscape is riddled with many teenage mothers who were forced to drop out of school and postpone their education due to teenage pregnancies. This has resulted in greater stress on the government as they have to act to stymie the possible fallout of this vulnerable group by putting certain catchments in place like the PATH programme.

It is important to note that this initiative does not only benefit teenage mothers and would not be likely to stop if this occurrence was reduced. However, such a large vulnerable group would have an impact on the amount of money that the government would have to spend to assist them. There is also additional proof that once young ladies become mothers as teenagers, they are likely to become pregnant on multiple occasions without any more support from the fathers of their children.

With all this considered, why is Parliament even hesitating to amend the law?

Legal Implications

Before such a law is amended, we must consider what effect that this alteration will have on the legal landscape. Firstly, once the law is amended it may result in the criminalisation of a greater cross-section of individuals. We cannot deny that there is a high level of sexual activity within our society, particularly amongst our youth. It was for this reason that Mrs Gordon-Harrison suggested that the law allows the ‘close in age’ defence that gives those who have sex with a youth who would be considered legally underage but are themselves close to the age of the offender.

Despite this fact, there are many in the society who have sex with youth who are far from their age group, therefore, denying them this defence. This means that these individuals would have to be charged, tried and sentenced in an already oversaturated justice system that already lacks the resources to deal with the cases that are currently on the books. The current state of our economy does not help to satiate this issue either. Therefore, the government would have to manage to find major resources to deal with this issue or else we would have a society with more individuals falling into to the criminal category never actually being able to be prosecuted.

Secondly, the entire law as it pertains to sex offenders would have to be given more teeth to at least deter the lecherous in our society who are hell-bent on terrorizing our youth from committing these crimes. This was the opinion of ‘The Star’ contributor Leighton Levy on this amendment to the law. He believed that this predatory behaviour where older men would prey on young girls would never end, even with the amendment to the law, if it isn’t given more ‘teeth’. This is a sentiment I personally agree with. Soft jail time is not enough to prevent men, who probably would have been doing these acts for years, from receiving sexual gratification from these young girls[4]. Though I wouldn’t suggest resulting to any draconian methods I believe that the law would need to have greater penalties to really deter these individuals[5].

 

Social Implications

Parliament would also have to consider the social landscape before amending the law to ensure that the provisions adequately fit the current temperature of society. Thus, we are brought to the controversial law and morality argument that has been happening from time immemorial. To paraphrase the Jamaica Constitution, section 49 states that Parliament is to make laws for the order and good governance of society. This, in the minds of many, would mean that Parliament is to pass laws that would uplift the moral standings of society; making the amendment to this law a no brainer. It is important to note that this age was raised in 1988 for similar reasons as was posited today.

However, one cannot assume that their morality is of the same nature as that of the other members of society. That is to say that though many, especially of a Christian persuasion, would believe that teenagers having sex is immoral and against God’s wishes; there are many who believe that this behaviour is normal and tantamount to growing up and maturing. It is easy to sit on one’s high horse of morality and look down on those who fall below your standard. It is easy to think that your opinion will bring the desired result to everyone who follows the law, but social reality tells us that this is simply not true.

For many even if the law is changed their attitudes and actions would remain the same. This is due to the fact that their behaviour was never influenced by the law but by their environment. Most youth are encouraged to begin sexual experimentation by their relatives and friends who think that this is the true sign of maturity. The majority of music produced by members of our society basically promotes sex and violence as the few worthwhile pastimes of our generation. Additionally, our sexual appetite is awakened early just by television advertisements and shows. We are a society saturated with sex and not with law.

Another common opinion espoused by many is that the increase in the age of consent will give youth, particularly girls the opportunity to pursue their education and qualify themselves. This is especially since 16 is the general age that most students do CXC which is the main requirement for qualifying for University.  However, what many don’t realise is that teenage girls may even pursue older men to help them finance their education.

It is no secret that Jamaica is not in the best socio-economic standing, thus making it more difficult for parents to finance their education. Many young people are therefore, encouraged to seek help from others who will use sex as their accepted payment for financial support. This can mean that the amendment of the law may have no effect on these transactional relationships but to criminalise the men who provide these young girls with money[6]. Thus, it can further deter these girls and their families from reporting these predators. This may be counterintuitive to what the law would desire.

Lastly, many in our society do not take the law seriously. They would therefore, have to be re-educated about the importance and sovereignty of the law and how it serves to protect us. Additionally, the public would have to be re-educated about the importance of childhood and the sanctity of this stage. This could help parents to be more ardent in protecting their children and help this stage to be one of the most productive and protected stage of their lives.

My Opinion

It is truly my opinion that the age of consent should be raised as I believe that it is the delay in having sex that may help youth in a heavily saturated society to keep their focus and continue to move forward and pursue higher education and specialisation. I also have witnessed the stalling effect that teenage sex and subsequent pregnancy can have on one’s life.

Growing up I saw many girls who I respect and who had major career ambitions have to put a pause their journey to support the babies that they have brought into the world. The fact is that early sex, without proper education has a negative impact on our youth and the society at large.

However, before this law will have real effect, the society has to be re-educated about the importance of abstinence and safe sex, the penalties for the breach of this law will have to become more punitive and the legal system will have to be financed to ensure that all these cases can be tried and sentenced in a timely manner. Though this may take time, I believe that it can be done and that our society will experience great benefits from this.

Camilla Parris-Campbell

Second Year Student

Faculty of Law, UWI Mona

Contributor, Mona Law Precedent

Co-Chair, Publications Committee

©C Parris-Campbell

[1] Along with the purchasing of the ‘Outameni’ facilities by the NHT and the brewing conflict between the DPP and head of INDECOM

[2] From henceforth referred to as the SOA

[3] a point that would be expanded later

[4] And often times’ boys

[5] No matter how deserved they are

[6] However immorally.

Editor’s Corner: The Silent Pandemic—Gender-Based Violence

NationalDomesticViolenceHotlinedomestic-violence

Goal 3: Safety

– Adolescent girls are free from violence and exploitation and are supported by enforced laws, strong and adequately resourced child protection systems and their communities[1].

As I observe the tapestry of female existence in various cultures and communities, one thing seems to be a prevalent chronic issue: gender-based violence. It seems most appropriate that during the season of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (November 25-December 10) that something be said about domestic violence.

I needn’t do a poll to see how many have been affected by gender-based violence (whether personally or vicariously) in our country. It has become common place in our society. Our daily traverse to our place of education or employ is riddled with cat-calls, comments on our form/figure and detailed ‘lyrics’ of how and how hard they would ‘love’ us[2]. Try to vehemently deny their advances, and suffer the consequence of being publicly castigated by men and women.

Yes women castigate other women for being offended when being solicited by other men. We blame each other for being attacked by men and usually are passive when such injustices occur as we were never defended when it affected us.

Additionally, a woman may be threatened with physical harm if she refutes the advances of a man. You must be wondering why I have put special focus on the verbal advances of men toward women. This is not violence! Surely a women cannot suffer any harm by a man just wanting to compliment her beauty. I posit that you’re wrong.

There is a psychological harm that accompanies these cat-calls and solicitations. This causes a female to question her dress and feel nervous whenever a man hangs too closely to her. Adversely, some women believe that this is the only way in which a man can display his interest thus they go to great lengths to ensure that they are noticed.

This use of verb age to solicit female attention may be classified under law as an Assault. An assault may be defined as ‘The act of putting another person in reasonable fear or apprehension of an immediate battery by means of an act amounting to an attempt or threat to commit a battery, amounts to an actionable assault.’

This essentially means that verbal solicitation that then espouses or threatens abuse should a woman refuse him may be a criminal offence (or an actionable tort). Our laws in Jamaica support this as do laws in some other legal jurisdictions.

One may feel that this now solves the problem of gender-based violence; we have belled the cat! Charge the men with assault if they try to impute violence upon another (specifically women). Sadly we would be grossly mistaken. There is still it’s darker relative. The Father of gender-based violence: domestic abuse.

Inflicted by all strata’s and classes of society, whether he be preacher or footballer. Whether he be called by ‘Rice’ or any other name, in almost every culture and nation, domestic violence exists.

I would like to say that the men that resort to this barbaric means of ‘discipline’ and ‘control are of a sub-human class rarely acknowledged or non-existent. However, regardless of education or background, domestic abuse is very prevalent in all areas.

Why does this prevail? How can we allow something this horrendous to occur? Through silence and misplaced restraint. Many of us believe that we would be invading one’s personal life and it’s not our place to judge. Many women confide in fellow women, and what do these women do? Remain silent.

Many persons who suffer through domestic violence are fearful about coming forward as they don’t want to be ostracized from their families and communities. The popular line used by their abusers: ‘Who would believe you?’ may flash into their mind. They lose their voice. They lose their ability to escape. Many of us have experienced domestic abuse whether it be personally or vicariously. The pain is unending and never leaves you. It sticks to the bone. Seeps into the marrow.

What goals and targets should we use to end gender-based violence? The targets set forward by the ‘Girl Declaration’ set the tone of what our society should aim to achieve in the near future:

Targets:

  1. Prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against girls.
  2. Ensure all girls have access to a“girl-friendly space.”

III. Ensure all states have national and sub-national mechanisms to identify, refer and report sexual violence against adolescent girls.

  1. Stop trafficking and exploitation of girls by passing and enforcing laws and policies that hold perpetratorsnot victims accountable.

Our entire society man, woman, boy and girl should have knowledge on the effects of gender-based violence. Attacking one gender destroys the entire society. Whenever we are faced with incidents of gender-based violence, whether personally or vicariously, bear in mind: I am not my sister’s keeper, I am my sister.

Christal Parris-Campbell

Editor-in-Chief, Mona Law Precedent

Publications Chair, Mona Law Society

Girl Engagement Advisory Board Member

Second Year Law Student, Faculty of Law UWI, Mona

© CP-C 2014

[1] Girl Declaration p.6 [www.girleffect.org]

[2] Cat-call (Urban Definition): A shrill call or whistle generally directed at females to get their attention e.g. psst….

Creative Corner: The Addict

Rehab-logo

There he found himself again. Gasping for air, droplets of sweat frantically racing down his cheek, brushing the imaginary dust off his nose, he had the dream again. It was his second week in rehab; it felt like a year. He had had the dream so many times that it became the norm to wake up almost every night, clutching his chest wishing he could just once more feel that magic powder in his system, but  he could not.

He had to succeed for his wife, for his son and for himself. Each day became harder than the next. His head was pounding demanding for the substance he had abused for so long. As he tried to drift back to the dark trance that was sleep, he recalled all those times he woke up not remembering where he had spent the last hour.

He could not count the number of times his body had been tormented by the bodyguard of a drug lord asking where his payment was. The times when he emotionally hurt his wife were burned in his heart. He hit her, screamed at her, degraded her but she stayed out of love and loyalty.

As he slept he dreamt of his son’s face those hazel eyes of innocence. He had a smile that could light the world twice over. His messy black hair which frolicked in the wind was fondly remembered. Those gigantic ears ready to listen and understand. He was a boy any father would be proud of, and his father was very proud

Finally the smiling sun gently caressed his cheek. He had survived another night. This fact alone gave him hope, shone a bright new light in the dark corner that was his disillusion life. He had newfound determination. He could do it; the chains of addiction that had kept him captive could be broken. Finally, at last freedom was attainable.

By: Chris Goldson

Third Year Law Student

Faculty of Law, UWI Mona

Contributor, The Mona Law Precedent

©Chris Goldson

Cavehill Corner: The Transition between Shores, Life of a Cavehill Student

official-jamaica-flagbarbados-flag

Name of Student (Interviewee): Romane Duncan

Year of Study: Second

Faculty: Law

Campus: University of the West Indies, Cavehill

  1. What’s the first thing you thought when you arrived in BIM[1]?

Uhm…why does this this place look exactly like Jamaica; the Caribbean is so similar!

  1. Tell me about your biggest culture shock.

So, its not that the customer service is bad, but it’s slow! So I think it’s just a cultural thing, we Jamaicans are probably too impatient! Definitely learning to take a chill pill!

  1. What’s the main difference between Cave Hill/Barbados and Mona/Jamaica? You

Mona is a 24hrs hub, full of life and food at any time of day (Nardo’s), Cave Hill calms after 8pm and if you want food, you know it’s a walk to the beloved Esso!

  1. The weather in BIM is beautiful! It changes more than chameleon’s skin. You always need a jacket as it rains for 1 minute periods! Keeping the temperature cool! It moves from one extreme to the next in seconds though.
  2. Law in BIM is great actually. I mean, I feel like my lecturers are equipped to deliver the content but these lecturers may mark harder. And the schedule is way more stable than at Mona. Cancelled classes are seldom.
  3. What are the main differences between courses taught at Cave Hill and those taught at Mona?

POLICY. As a proud Matthewsian (Hi Miss), I pride myself in seeking the policy behind the law, it’s not that important here!

  1. Describe your weirdest course/lecturer/tutor.

Sampson Owusu. He is just the best, he has a Ghanan accent which adds a new dimension to the technical area of Real Property. Just hearing him say ‘Ray-al Prropaaahtee’, you are interested and want to learn more. And who can doubt him when he was quoted by the Privy Council!

  1. How does it feel to be the last Jamaican group on the Cave Hill-Mona law programme?

I feel like I am being afforded the best opportunity! This idea of Caribbean integration is at the ambit of this programme and to be the last group saddens me. I feel like closing the programme sets us one step backward in achieving a unified Caribbean. Oh and plus every single, deggeh deggeh island is represented here, the true idea of a melting pot, bet yuh neva eat fig pie!!! 


  1. Describe hall life. Does it differ greatly from hall life at Mona?

Uhm…it depends on the hall you live on! So lived on Rex at Mona (mi say a who dem??? Rex Reeeex Nettleford!) where I am used to my own space. It is very similar to Frank Worrel here! But here, I am a Sherlockite(All hail King Fattercock!), it has an amazing family life and definitely where the hype is at! Oh and in the Hall’s battle we destroyed the pussycats of Worrel! So, it’s a change for me (but it’s based on where I was).

  1. How involved are you in on campus activities?

Well, I won both the Inter-Island Debate and Public Speaking Competitions for Jamaica!!! Hip hip? I am an International Mooter going to Rio de Janeiro 2015! And I am an honorary Antiguan! Oh and I act every now and again! #caribbeannational #reallyinvolved

  1. Would you say you’ve become more patriotic since being in BIM?

Oh Gosh! A me say back a yahd! Yes!!! We rep Jamaica though! I get to be an ambassador for the great Nanny as well as for the rushing waters of Dunns River Falls! Blue Drawz?

  1. Do you seize all opportunity to promote Jamaican culture? Is it well received?

Every single one! I have to let them know we are not as violent as we seem to be! That we are really a hospitable people who love farrinas! And the foooooood! Yes they love it! We love it! Yup Jamaica body tun up! Yeah and everybody says Jamaican bad words hoping I’ll be impressed! (I’m not).

  1. Do you miss anything about Mona? If yes, what?

The life! The buzz! My friends! My PLAY foundation! 434 Rex Nettleford Hall! The random gazebos with electricity and WiFi! The 24 hrs library! The law faculty! On time taxi services!!! And the food outlets on campus that are affordable! I now pause to appreciate how convenient it is to buy food at Mona.

  1. How often do you feel homesick? What do you do to rid yourself of the feeling?

Not very often, but Bajan food is an acquired taste (I haven’t acquired itL). So, it becomes really difficult when you want some serious Sunday dinner or our Devon House I-scream delicacy or a hot patty from Tastees…but other than crying (lol), I skype a friend, eat a spoon of Jamaican Chocolate mix and play some yardie music! Nb. Don’t judge me! Mi awrite!

  1. If a Mona student decides to spend a semester at Cave Hill, what is one thing s/he must absolutely do in BIM?

Go on a Catamaran cruise! It is amazing! The country is beautiful and clean and you won’t be certain if you are vacationing or studying! I mean Mona is not near the beach so it a whole new experience! Turn down for what?

Sherese Graham

Second Year Law Student,

Faculty of Law, UWI Mona

Contributor, Mona Law Precedent

Member, Publications Committee

©Sherese Graham

[1] Nickname for Barbados

News and Issues: Raging Hormones Rage Against the Law: The Age of Consent Debate Continues!

teen-pregnancy-is-100-preventable-lol-quotes-pinterest

Should the age of consent be changed from 16 years to 18 years in Jamaica? Will this change the behaviour of our men towards our children? Will it bring about a change in the attitudes of the youth toward sexual promiscuity? These questions and more may be asked. But what is the real issue?

Teenage pregnancy is still a major issue, our children as early as 10 years old are being abused by our so called “mature men and women” in society. Yes I said women! Women prey on young boys, many are abused and even raped by women[1]. Will the age of consent being changed to 18 years bring about a significant change?

Minister with responsibility for Information in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, has stated her intention to push for the age of consent to be raised from 16 to 18 years. She believes that, “the time has come for us to look at the age of consent. If you cannot vote until you are age 18 years, you cannot legally drink until you are age 18 years, why then should our 16 year old youth be allowed to have sex. I do not think they should be allowed to consent, because at that time they are not equipped to make decisions,” she stated.

She believes that raising the age of consent will help to counteract the country’s high rate of teenage pregnancy, and address the breakdown of morals in the society. The Minister said that too many children are having children, which they not equipped to care for. This, she said, is leading to a breakdown in the family structure and fuelling the country’s crime problem.

Similarly, Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison is pressing ahead with her campaign to have the age of consent in Jamaica moved from 16 to 18.Mrs. Gordon Harrison on November 12, made a presentation before the Joint Select Committee of Parliament examining the Sexual Offences Act, which is scheduled for amendment. She supported her position with data on teen pregnancy, and argued that moving the age of consent to 18 would aid in protecting young women from sexual predators and early pregnancies.

“We’re seeing 25 per cent of babies in Jamaica being born to girls 10-19 years… When 16 kicks in that number spikes quite a bit,” she reported. She added that, even though a child, at age 16, might still be under the care of her parents, the fact that “the law sanctions the free consent to sex,” makes it more difficult to control their sexual behaviour.

I agree with Mrs. Falconer and Ms. Gordon, but changing the act is not enough, work needs to be done community by community, in our schools, in our churches within the public and private sector to protect and guide our children. It has to be the effort of everyone to protect our children.

Parents have the biggest role to play, but many times these are the persons abusing our children, how do we change the mind-set of these individuals? It is so sad that a mother would use her child for monetary gain or a father or stepfather, uncle or relative would use a child for sexual gratification. Putting laws in place is great, but what more will be done Ms. Falconer? What more will be done Ms. Gordon?

A Committee member, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, was not swayed by the Children’s Advocate’s arguments, however, regarding older men having sex with under-age children, as according to her, “I am not sure that the age of consent is the root of that problem.” She said the country had a longstanding problem of not properly diagnosing its various social problems and therefore being unable to find adequate solutions.

Age of consent laws are here to protect our young people from being sexually exploited by adults. Although some people under the age of consent may feel that they are mature enough to engage in a sexual relationship, others may lack the emotional development to deal with this or to feel confident enough to say ‘no’. However, no matter how old our children are, they should ever feel under pressure to have sex. And the age of consent, doesn’t mean you should be having sex at that age. Our children she be able to ask themselves, ‘Am I legally old enough?Do I really think I’m ready? Am I under any pressure, from others or in my own mind? Do I know what I’m doing? Do I understand the risks? Do I know how to protect myself?

It important therefore, to teach our children and youth to abstain from sex or delay the age at which you first have it. Remember, the safest sex is no sex at all! Be faithful, have sex with one partner who has been tested so you know he or she is not infected with an STD or STI. And make sure they are also not infected with the HIV virus and use a condom every time they do decide to have sex.

This is a global issue, our children are being trafficked, and some engage in prostitution, many are living with HIV and other sexual transmitted disease, it is not easy to change the behaviour and attitudes of our people. Changing the age of consent to 18 will help no matter how minimal, so yes! Let’s move forward and change the age of consent.

Karlia Carty

Third Year Law Student

Faculty of Law, UWI Mona

Contributor, Mona Law Society

Member Publications Committee

©Karlia Carty

[1] However, this is an issue which will have to be discussed in another paper.