Belize Women Against Violence has begun work on sexual offenses laws reform. The organization is being assisted with the drafting of these laws by Leslie Mendez, Attorney-at-law. They have held public consultations in Belize City, Punta Gorda, Dangriga and Orange Walk Towns and are expected to conclude these by the end of the month. These consultations are being facilitated by Dorla Bowman, Patty Sho and Senieda Shol. The legal presentations are being done by Attorneys-at-law Leslie Mendez and Monica Coc Magnusson, who spoke with correspondent Harry Arzu at the consultation in Dangriga.
Monica Coc Mangusso Attorney: “The proposals are that we have to strengthen the current laws that we have and then also put together a comprehensive bill that specifically looks at sexual crimes and that would include the introduction of new crimes. For instance we have a sexual offenses act but this model build will include a grievous sexual assault aspect and some of the proposed changes would include increase in penalties in respect of these crimes and it would look at privacy concerns related to victims of sexual assault and so we feel that it is necessary given the increase or the instances of sexual offenses in Belize particularly as it relates to minors and so that is why it is important that we have in fact the Commonwealth and CARICOM has recommended that we have some form of sexual crimes legislation which we don’t necessarily have that in Belize yet and so this project is looking at that and looking at doing that.”
The work is being funded by the British High Commission and the US Embassy. And, is being done in collaboration with Building People Movement. The organizations seek to make sexual assault and offence, remove the restrictions to the law on marital rape, create cybercrime laws, increase penalties for sexual offenses and make laws gender neutral.