National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, citing a breakdown in the social fabric of Saint Lucia among reasons for eleven homicides so far for this year, has spoken of plans to raise the age of consent.
“One of the things I want to do in discussion with the AG is to even look at bringing the age of consent up to about eighteen,” Francis revealed, adding that too many children are having children.
“That is where the problem is because if you notice the people who are getting involved in crime are very young people and that means that the family has broken down so we need to correct that,” the former Deputy Police Commissioner stated.
He also spoke of making crimes where young people are involved a ‘state offence’.
“So it is just like capital murder – murder, you don’t really have a complainant but the state becomes the complainant,” the minister explained.
Francis said in cases where young ladies have gone to the hospital and had children and there is information that they have been abused, the state will take on the responsibility of being the virtual complainant.
The minister asserted that the move will not be easy as lawyers and others may try to fight the initiative.
But he declared that it was necessary if Saint Lucia is going to fight crime in a holistic way.
“In other countries like the United States and Sweden and those places where the age of consent is eighteen, we don’t seem to find those incidents of children being wayward ,” the minister noted.
He said there was need to tackle the problem of crime from both law enforcement and social angles.
In Saint Lucia, a sixteen year old is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity but is restricted from getting married or voting.
The Planned Parenthood Association has expressed concern about anomalies in local law that contribute to unwanted teenage pregnancies.
According to the association, although a sixteen year old can give consent to sex, to access services related to sexual health, to manage pregnancies and space children, the same sixteen year old needs parental consent.