Mon | Jan 30, 2023

Crawford wants long sentences for child sex abuse

Published:Saturday | December 3, 2022 | 12:12 AM

Opposition Spokesman on Education Damion Crawford has proposed a minimum sentence of 15 years for men who sexually abuse underage girls.

At the same time, the opposition senator is also calling for the age of consent to be adjusted from 16 to 18 years.

Highlighting data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, Crawford said that a total of 59,591 births to adolescents were recorded between 2009 and 2019.

He noted that in 10 years, nearly 60,000 young girls had a baby.

With the Government’s policy to have students in high schools for seven years, Crawford said the age of consent should be reviewed to allow this objective to be met.

Discussing a United Nations Children Fund study, Crawford said that the document indicated that the objective of a minimum age of sexual consent is to protect adolescents from sexual abuse and to safeguard them from the consequences of early sexual activity on their rights and on their development.

“One of the consequences of early sexual activity is that the young girls will become pregnant and lose their future,” Crawford said on Friday while making his contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Upper House.

The UNICEF study, according to Crawford, stated that young adolescents may be lured into sexual activity by older adults in exchange for goods.

“You know how many of these nasty men out there [buy fast food] to lure our little young girls suffering from the economic circumstances and poverty that they are in?” Crawford said.

“If we want to extend the secondary experience to seven years, we must consider the age of consent to be moved from 16 to 18,” the senator insisted.

Crawford also called for the establishment of a permanent paedophile registry.

He also wants the Government to equip the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse with enough staff to probe all underage pregnancies. He is suggesting that these investigators should be given the power to take DNA from suspects.

“If you have 60,000 [underage girls getting pregnant] in the last 10 years, at least 50,000 [men] should be in jail. That’s how you bring down some of these criminals,” said Crawford.