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Rape vs grievous sexual assault

Published:Monday | April 16, 2012 | 12:00 AM


In her column of Sunday, April 8, 2012, Carolyn Cooper made reference to Jamaica not acknowledging the "all-inclusive definition" of rape as set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Despite what A.J. Nicholson might have said in 2007, his personal comments do not represent the law.

The Sexual Offences Act (2009), which came into effect on July 15, 2011, repealed the Incest (Punishment) Act and added certain provisions set out in the previous Offences Against the Person Act.

Section 4 of the Sexual Offences Act created a gender-neutral category named 'grievous sexual assault', where the act treats with all circumstances so contained in the very WHO document to which Carolyn referred.

In my view, the 2009 act goes beyond that definition to include, among other provisions, the use of other parts of the body except the penis to commit the act; the use of an object manipulated by the offender or to someone who encourages such an act of penetrating the vagina or anus of the victim.

The punishment, if found guilty in a Circuit Court for committing a 'grievous sexual assault', is for not less than 15 years' imprisonment.