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Grange wants tougher penalties for crimes against women, children

Published:Tuesday | July 12, 2016 | 7:30 PM
Grange used a statement to the House of Representatives this afternoon to urge support for the inclusion of tougher measures under the sexual offences, domestic abuses and child care laws.

 Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter

Gender Affairs Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange wants the Parliament to support the Government's push to legislate harsh penalties for perpetrators of crime and violence against women and children.

Grange used a statement to the House of Representatives this afternoon to urge support for the inclusion of tougher measures under the sexual offences, domestic abuse and child care laws.

"The time is now for the Parliament to make its voices heard," she said.

Her statement comes as the nation grapples with Sunday's murder of three-year old Nevalesia Campbell in St Ann.

One suspect has since been arrested.

The police have also arrested the child's mother and the woman's common-law husband after investigations revealed that the little girl  and her twin brother were at home alone when she was abducted.

"Our children, women have a right to feel safe in this country," Grange said.

She did not state exactly what measures will be proposed, but they may come from a dormant parliamentary committee that up to 2014 had a mandate to review the Sexual Offences Act.

The decision to restart the committee, according to Grange follows consultations with Justice Minister Delroy Chuck.

Grange said the child's killing "only strengthens the resolve of the Government to move swiftly to take all the necessary steps to complete the work of the joint select committee".

Approximately 1,700 Jamaican children have been past 14 years.

Meanwhile, with only 28 per cent victims of gender-based violence reporting the crimes, Grange insisted that this needs to change quickly.

Lisa Hanna, the opposition spokesperson on youth, supported the call for tougher measures for against violence against women and children.

"I am heartened by the calling for partnership," Hanna told the House in response to Grange's statement.

She also reminded the Government of sexual harassment bill that was tabled in the House in January.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com