The maximum sentences for sexual offences, usually frowned upon by many Vincentians as not being harsh enough, may soon be amended to allow for stiffer penalties.
“…Then there is a review of the penalties for some particular sexual offences, where some of the penalties are not in sync with some of our neighbours, or where we consider they ought to be,” said Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves while speaking on WE FM’s Issue at Hand programme on Sunday, October 8.
The Prime Minister, who is also Minister of National Security, said the drafting of legislation to mete out harsher penalties to sexual offenders is part of a three-part approach, from the legislation standpoint, to fight crime in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
The other pieces of legislation that have already reached drafting stage are aimed at increasing the penalties for firearm possession and regulating the tint placed on motor vehicle windscreen and windows.
The Prime Minster also noted on Sunday that government has to do work on strengthening the prisons’ physical facilities.
“We improving up in Belle Isle with the woman prison, and some work, a lot of work down in Kingstown and then there are some organizational issues,” Gonsalves said, while noting that he has already held discussions with Superintendent of Prisons (acting) Duane Bailey whom he described as a great leader who is doing a good job.
Statistics compiled by police between 1990 and 2004 show rape, indecent assault, buggery and incest to be the most common sexual offences committed here, with rape being the most prevalent.
In 2019, a local psychologist described SVG as having a rape culture and one of the highest reported incidents of rape (per capita), in the region at 112 per 100,000.