Sexual offenses and penalties
By Renay Sambach
Kaieteur News – Rape and sexual assault are serious crimes, and those kinds of issues are very sensitive, especially when it involves a child victim. For the past few weeks, headlines involving sexual offenses have frequently appeared in the news.
Rape can be defined, when a person penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of a person with a penis, without his consent; whereas sexual assault is when a person penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth, with any part of the body other than the penis, without the person’s consent.
Other types of sexual assault are, someone touching another person in a sexual way without their consent; causing someone to sexually touch the perpetrator; causing someone to sexually touch another person; all without the person’s consent.
This article aims to bring awareness to the seriousness of the crime and the penalties associated with the crimes.
What was observed is that the alleged perpetrators were relatives in most of the recent sexual assault cases. What is also clear is that those cases came out of Region One.
Rape or sexual assault not only occurs at home, or is committed by relatives. Rape or sexual assault can also occur in the workplace and can occur in marriages and relationships.
Sex and sexual acts are about consent, and if you have forced your partner or partner to force you to have sex with them, rape, or sexual assault. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to have sex or perform sex acts with him or her. Without your permission, it is a criminal offense. In addition, the circumstances surrounding the granting of consent must be considered. It should be noted that there is no consent when a minor is involved, when alcohol or drugs are consumed, or when mental incapacity is a factor.
Statutory rape is having sex with a minors even if both parties agreed to the sex, but the minors cannot consent to sex. In addition, consent or belief that consent is due to silence or lack of physical resistance cannot be gleaned.
However, rape and sexual assault are offenses available, but only at the discretion of the Magistrate.
Sexual violence is a demonstrable issue and when the matter is brought to court, the alleged perpetrator is not required to plead (guilty or not guilty) to the offense. The matter would first go to the Magistrates Court for a preliminary investigation (DP). DP is made by the Magistrate. The prosecution would produce the evidence for the court and in the end the Magistrate can either commit the alleged perpetrator to stand trial for rape in the High Court or dismiss the case because of insufficient evidence or other reasons.
A person found guilty of rape is liable on conviction to life imprisonment.
Although sexual assault issues are made brief. Meaning that when the matter is brought before the court, the Magistrate will conduct a trial and the alleged perpetrator may plead guilty or not guilty to the charge after it has been read to them. A person is liable, on summary conviction, to five years’ imprisonment. However, sexual assault can clearly be imposed, and after an indictment conviction, a person is liable to face 10 years imprisonment.
COURT OF SEXUAL CRIME
With the sensitive nature of sexual offenses, the Sexual Offenses Court was created with the alleged victims in mind, and to protect them from any further trauma from seeing the accused in evidence.
Court-friendly features of court victims have been helping with the successful prosecution of rape cases.
Established on November 13, 2017, the Court of Sexual Offenses is situated in the Sixth Court of the Supreme Court and represents the judiciary’s commitment to be responsive to the concerns raised in society about the conduct of sexual offense case trials .
The court has audio-visual devices to assist witness testimony. There are two screens in the courtroom which give complainants a more suitable location to face their alleged perpetrators.
Since the expert court came to power, several trials have been scrapped and several people have been convicted of sexual offenses offenses.
The court has a panel of eminent judges, including Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall, Justice Joanne Barlow, Justice Navindra Singh, Justice James Bovell-Drakes and Justice Brassington Reynolds, whose functions are rotated .
Prior to the establishment of the Sexual Offenses Court, a large number of sexual offense cases were at dlele-prosequi (dismissed), mainly because the alleged victims were reluctant to testify before the High Court.
Reports noted that the average trial duration is four days. The longest, so far, has been eight days and the shortest three days, and if the process is not handled carefully, it can cause secondary trauma to the victims.
Due to the sensitive nature of sexual offense cases, victims are often appalled at reporting their experiences to the police. For those who report their matter and the alleged perpetrators are charged, the case would normally progress slowly through the court system. When the issues reach court, most victims may refuse to pursue the matter because of the time it takes and how traumatic the experience can be.
As a result, there are two screens in the sexual offense courtroom, which help to provide the complainants with a more suitable location to face their alleged perpetrators.
With this dedicated facility in place, jurors have reported that more victims of sexual assault are finding the courage to seek justice through the courts.
During the proceedings, judges are required to take the evidence by hand but a recording system is also incorporated in the court.
As promised, during May 2019, a sexual offenses court was established in New Amsterdam, Berbice, and during September 2019, another sexual offenses court was established in Essequibo up to $ 17.4M.
According to reports, Thurston Semple, 37, was kept in jail when he appeared in court for his fourth charge of rape.
Tucville Terrace’s alleged Lot 5A serial abuser, Georgetown, is accused of raping four sex workers during 2017 to 2021.
In his latest case, Semple picked up the woman and agreed to pay her to have sex with him. However, while at Semple’s home after the first round the woman told Semple that she had only one other condom and that if he didn’t ejaculate, he would leave. The woman’s warning reportedly caused Semple to become annoyed. He then reported that he armed himself with a knife and then verbally and vaguely raped the woman. He also sodomized her.
In August 2018, a New Amsterdam man was convicted of raping a physically challenged girl.
The man, Wazir Ali, of the Bermine Housing Scheme, New Amsterdam, Berbice, was convicted of raping the 17-year-old in 2015.
According to the facts of that case, Ali was tasked with transporting church members, including the youth he raped after dropping all members off.
In another case, a police officer was set on $ 150,000 bail for allegedly raping his 13-year-old cousin.
It is alleged that in December 2019, in Georgetown, he raped a child under the age of 16 knowing, or could reasonably be expected to know, that he is his cousin.
According to reports, the child told investigators that during December 2019, after she left the shower and entered the bedroom, the defendant entered the bedroom a few seconds later and to rape her.
The defendant had made another attempt to sexually assault the child, but was able to record a short video of him trying to take off his pants. The matter was reported and the defendant arrested and subsequently charged for the offense.
During March 2021, Ivor Laud was convicted of raping a 10 year old girl. Laud and the victim were reportedly known to each other and lived in the same neighborhood.
According to reports, the first time the incident happened, the accused called the child over to his house and told her he had something for her, so he followed her into his house. At the time, the accused had only one bedroom.
They then entered the bedroom and there the accused charged her and laid her down on the bed. Then he stripped down his pants and underwear and removed his pants and underwear.
The victim reportedly saw the man’s erect penis, which he instructed to hold before later pushing her to her vagina. Afterwards, the victim reported that she saw a white substance on her penis and then told her to go home and wash dishes, so she did.
According to the information, this continued between 2015 and 2017, where the accused would place his penis in his vagina and sometimes suck his vagina.
The last time was in August 2017, where the accused sucked the complainant’s vagina into his bedroom home. He would have called her over and she went.
When the events happened, no one would be at home. At the time, he had a wife and children. The matter later became known and the accused was arrested and charged with rape.