The call came last week after UNDP Senior Human Rights Adviser in Jamaica Birgit Gerstenberg told a Parliamentary committee meeting at Gordon House that the UN was recommending other forms, such as penetration of the mouth, anal intercourse or penetration by non-sex organs and objects (except for medical purposes) be considered.
J-FLAG supported the move saying that “the current definition of sexual intercourse, which was crafted in 2009 is “inaccurate”, adding that “it is unfortunate that we have allowed our laws to treat rape of some persons as more severe than rape of others.”
Policy and Advocacy Manager at J-FLAG, Glenroy Murray, argued that the definition of ‘sexual intercourse’ contained in Section 2 of the Sexual Offences Act is explicitly gender and orifice specific, explaining that “sexual intercourse is distinct from anal intercourse and consequently the absence of consent for sexual intercourse connotes the offence of rape, whereas the defence of consent is not available for the crime of anal intercourse (buggery). Similarly, the current definition excludes oral copulation from the rubric of ‘sexual intercourse’ and instead considers it a part of a distinct sexual offence which is ‘grievous sexual assault’”.
“Having a definition of rape that is accurate and reflective of the ways in which people are raped is essential to guaranteeing equality before the law as provided for in section 13 (3)(g) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms,” Murray argued, adding that this is the only way to equally and adequately protect children, women and men from all forms of sexual violence and abuse.
Meanwhile, the UN’s recommendation has left OBSERVER ONLINE readers in a furore, saying that the organization has a “hidden agenda”.
One OBSERVER ONLINE reader said that the recommendation was “utter rubbish” as “sexual intercourse is only via the way of the vagina and penis” and that” those two body parts are the only way that a child can be conceived.”
The reader further warned the Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, and the government to not “fall for this trick by the UN... they have a hidden agenda.”
But amid the uproar, some readers supported the move, with one reader adding that the “article makes good common sense they should go do a redefinition along those lines immediately.”
Another added that, “the law need to change because some of these big men/women are forcing under age boys/girls into doing oral sex. Especially the rapist men dem.”
“I agree” said another reader, “our definition needs to be broadened so that many more people can be convicted for sexual immorality.”
Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has since instructed a law reform team to work on a "perfect definition" of rape that will satisfy the UN and also the Jamaican public.