The Sexual Offences Act criminalizes sex with minors under 16 years that do not fall within the definition of rape

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Legally speaking, in Antigua & Barbuda, a woman cannot rape a man and a man cannot rape his wife.

That’s a result of the country’s narrow definition of the term “rape”, which is laid out in the Sexual Offences Act (1995).

According to section 3 (1) of the Act, a male person commits the offence of rape when he has sexual intercourse with a female person who is not his wife

either –

(a) without her consent where he knows that she does not

consent to the intercourse or he is reckless as to

whether she consents to it; or

(b) with her consent where the consent –

(i) is extorted by threats or fear of bodily harm to

her or to another; or

(ii) is obtained by impersonating her husband; or

(iii) is obtained by false and fraudulent representations

as to the nature of the act.

The act provides life imprisonment as the maximum sentence for the offence of rape.

Given the legal definition, it is not considered rape and many times it is not even an offence if a husband has sexual intercourse with his wife without her consent.

The Act does provide limited circumstances when a husband can be held liable for the act.

Section 4 (1) reads a husband commits the offence of sexual assault when he has sexual intercourse with his wife without her consent by force or fear where there is in existence in relation to them –

(i) a decree nisi of divorce;

(ii) a decree of judicial separation;

(iii) a separation agreement; or

(iv) an order for the husband not to molest his wife

or have sexual intercourse with her.

A husband can be sentenced up to fifteen years in prison for the sexual assault of his wife.

The Sexual Offences Act also criminalizes sex with minors under 16 years that do not fall within the definition of rape.

For example, Section 5 of the Act creates an offence for “Sexual Intercourse with a female under fourteen”.

Section 5. (1) reads where a male person has sexual intercourse with a female person who is under the age of fourteen years, he is guilty of an offence, whether or not the female person consented to the intercourse or whether or not at the time of the intercourse he believed her to be fourteen years of age or more, and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.

An offence for “Sexual Intercourse with a female between fourteen and fifteen” is created under Section 6.

6. (1) Where a male person has sexual intercourse with a female person who is not his wife with her consent and who has attained the age of fourteen years but has not yet attained the age

of sixteen years, he is guilty of an offence, and is liable on

conviction to imprisonment for ten years.

(2) A male person is not guilty of an offence under subsection

(1) –

(a) if he honestly believed that the female person was

sixteen years of age or more; or

(b) if the male person is not more than three years older

than the female person and the court is of the opinion

that the evidence discloses that as between the male

person and the female person, the male person is not

wholly or substantially to blame.

Similarly, a woman who is 18 years or older can be convicted for “Sexual intercourse with male under sixteen”.

7. (1) Where a female adult has sexual intercourse with a male

person who is not her husband and who is under the age of sixteen years, she is guilty of an offence, whether or not the male person consented to the intercourse, and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.

(2) A female adult is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) –

(a) if she honestly believed that the male person was

sixteen years of age or more; or

(b) if the female adult is not more than three years older

than the male person and the court is of the opinion

that evidence discloses that as between the female

adult and the male person, the female adult is not

wholly or substantially to blame.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Well finally ANR using their platform to put out something useful. Hope all the experts read this and uderstand the law a little better. And by experts I mean all the internet police, internet judges, internet lawyers and intrrnet jury.

  2. SMDH the issue is not reading and understanding. It is 2020! Obviously the laws need to be changed as we all know a woman can indeed rape a man!

    These laws are outdated and so not protect the innocent.

    Whatever the name of the crime being charged with, sex with a child AKA RAPE deserves more than probation or 12 months in prison. PERIOD !

    • VERY CORRECT LADY J

      ‘ RAPE or SEXUAL INTERCOURSE

      The only darn difference is ‘Age.’

      An adult engaging in ‘…Sexual Intercourse with a minor,’ that is ‘Statutorily Protected’ [Section 5: Sexual Offences Act: No. 9 of 1995].

      The same darn criminal act.

      From a professional perspective, the darn problem is really not the Judge, but the ‘…ridiculous sentence.’

      Read more about this right here at ‘ANR’ under title;

      ‘ TWO YEARS PROBATION – EC$1000 FOR CHILD SEX.’

      Later in the week.

      Irrefutably true.

      ‘Two Years Probation and EC$1000 for Child Sex.’

      • “‘ RAPE or SEXUAL INTERCOURSE

        The only darn difference is ‘Age.’”…

        THAT’S INCORRECT.

        First of all, you can’t have “rape” without “sexual intercourse”.

        So a more useful comparison would be between “legal sexual intercourse” and “rape”.

        But, however you choose to phrase it, the only darn difference is actually consent (and sometimes marital status) not age.

        According to the law… (Putting aside the exception for the son-of-a-gun husband)

        1. A male can have consensual SEXUAL INTERCOURSE with an adult female 18+ (legal) (no penalty)

        2. A male can have consensual SEXUAL INTERCOURSE with a female minor aged 17 or 16 (legal) (no penalty)

        3. A male can have consensual SEXUAL INTERCOURSE with a female minor aged 15 or 14 (illegal) (10 years max)

        4. A male person can have consensual SEXUAL INTERCOURSE with a minor under 14 years. (Illegal) (Max- Life Imprisonment)

        ……………

        Rape is non-consensual sex…

        1. A male can RAPE an adult female 18+ (Illegal) (Max- Life Imprisonment)

        2. A male can RAPE a minor female aged 17 or 16 (Illegal) (Max- Life Imprisonment)

        3. A male can RAPE a minor female aged 15 or 14 (Illegal) (Max- Life Imprisonment)

        4. A male person can RAPE a minor female under 14 years. (Illegal) (Max- Life Imprisonment)

        Section 23 of The Sexual Offences Act (1995)… Defines Sexual Intercourse.

        23. Where in any proceedings for an offence under this Act it, is necessary to prove sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural) it shall not be necessary to prove the completion of the intercourse by the emission of seed but the intercourse shall be deemed complete upon proof of penetration only.

    • Did he hold her down and had sex with her or was she a willing party? He is wrong because she is under age but it was not RAPE!! Read the law and understand it!.

  3. Yes indeed Lady J.
    The law is 25yrs old & outdated.
    Plenty has happened globally in 25-years.
    Internet. Me Too. UN Womens program for rape & violence. Clarity on minors not being able to give consent. Clarity on anyone saying NO means no, including to their spouse.
    Wide global acceptance that rape (including intimate violence/ harassment) can be between adults be they male/female, female/male, male/male & female / female – and any of those combinations with an under age minor, and, between a married or common-law couple.

    It’s time to update the Act, or better still, replace it with completely new, modern, thoughtful, relevant & clear legislation.

    Certain laws are being amended & updated very quickly at present, so maybe this is an opportunity for positive action.
    Will Min. Gender Affairs, W.A.R. & Bar Association lead the charge?

  4. So these laws are so one sided and full of conflict now if the legal age of consent to have sex for any child is sixteen years old why is it child support is still to be paid up to 21yrs of age. The child is now legally able to make there own decisions legally able to work and legally able to be by them self’s.. So I am very lost here.. Can someone explain this to me.

  5. If I’m not mistaken, if a man has sexual intercourse with his wife without consent, she can still make a report, and a charge can be brought under assault.

    She can present herself, also, to the court or gender affairs, and a restraining and or ouster order can be brought against the husband.

  6. Lock them damn pedophiles up and throw away the key, They are a threat to society, and they do not recover, neither can they be changed. Got get ’em. Lock ’em up.

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