Senate President calls for tightening sexual crime laws

With the increasing occurrence of sexual violence in the country, President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey has called for a tightening of the laws to ensure that less lenient punishments are handed out to perpetrators.

President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey

Speaking at the last sitting of the Upper House of Parliament at Parliament Building, Mt. Wheldale, St. George, Sen. Humphrey charged that the legislation governing sexual-related offences is too lenient and people are only given seven years in prison for committing sexual crimes against children.

“What’s happening to us? There was a murder of an eight year old after which she was sexually assaulted…the leniency, the leniency, I don’t understand what is happening with our other branch”, he said in reference to the Judiciary.

“I can’t speak disparagingly at them, but I can press my concern, but I think as legislators, we have a duty to tighten the laws, we have a duty to tighten the punishment that is meted out, to send the message that this kind of behaviour is not accepted,” he told the Upper House.

According to Sen. Humphrey, perpetrators of sexual offences were punished in the right way during the colonial days and crimes were minimal with about two murders a year.

“When I grew up, you were found guilty of rape, you were flogged with a ‘catanine tail’, you were found guilty of murder you were hung – justice was swift, certain and predictable. How do you murder someone because they stepped on your sneakers? How do you rape and murder a seven and eight year old? Something is wrong and you have to take the necessary steps to bring back balance,” he said.

The Senate President lay some of the blame on the disorder in the society and increase in sexual crimes on the spate of uncensored lyrics in songs that are played in the media.

Sen. Humphrey said: “The old days when I was growing up when we had calypso tents there was censorship. There were songs that were sung for adults and if you wanted to hear certain songs, you went to a calypso tent to hear them. You didn’t have to hear them inside of your living room with children, neither did we have the television that bombards children with all messages of sexuality. 99.9% of all the messages that come on television is a sexual message.

“This ‘objectivisation’ finds its worse expression in certain cultural artforms that we now glorify…soca, dancehall music and rap, where every part of a woman’s anatomy is highlighted, focused on and promoted. It’s a sickening exercise and there is little wonder that we have this explosion of sexual crimes.

“…Then you see it in our failure to sensor the television which comes into our homes. So, that the kids in the living room during the working day, during working day, during the evening, the sexual messages that come over public television. Now if as an adult you want to go and subscribe to an adult site in the privacy of your bedroom, that’s a different matter.

“I could comment not on that but to have piped into our children at 6 o’clock in the evening, 7 o’clock in the evening, in the news, in which you have corporate sponsors sponsoring this so-called Soca shows with the most vulgar and vile exhibition of the female anatomy on television for our children to see and we call it culture. I find it is rather disgusting and it explains where we are and why we are, where we are…that is the challenge that we face.

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