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Legislators urges to give disabled greater protection from abuse

Published:Friday | October 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE JOINT Select Committee of Parliament reviewing the Sexual Offences Act, the Child Care and Protection Act and the Offences Against the Person Act heard from the disabled community on Wednesday but presentations from church groups had to be rescheduled as presenters were said to be ailing from the effects of the chikungunya virus.

Executive director of the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, Christine Hendricks, commented on a number of provisions contained in the pieces of legislation under review to provide greater protection for the vulnerable in the society.

Under the Sexual Offences Act, Hendricks submitted that mental illness should be redefined as intellectual disability, and that other groups of persons - such as the deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and visually impaired - should be included in the act.

She told the committee that the age range for the description of a child/adult for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities should be increased from 16 to 21 as the developmental age for persons with intellectual disabilities is usually less than their chronological age.

Hendricks also wants law-makers to give consideration to the protection of persons with intellectual disabilities under the Child Care and Protection Act and the Offences Against the Person Act. She said persons with intellectual disabilities are more likely to be physically abused by family and community members.

Committee member Senator Alexander Williams suggested that separate legislation be crafted to deal with offences against persons with intellectual disabilities. He received support from committee chairman Senator Mark Golding, who argued that the legislation could also address offences committed by persons with intellectual disabilities.