The Belize Women Against Violence Movement, in collaboration with Building People Movement, is working to put together a Sexual Assault Act which will seek to repeal and replace existing laws relating to sexual crimes. The first of a series of forums under the Sexual Crimes Legislation Reform Project was held today. Dorla Bowman, the President of the Belize Women Against Violence Movement told the media that the initiative seeks to see how the law is protecting us and identify ways in which it can do better.
Dorla Bowman – President of the Belize Women Against Violence Movement: “The law must lead the way and based on our local experience we write the laws to address these issues. The members of the Women Against Violence countrywide came together in April and they decided that we need to look at the laws and also look at the services because it is not only the laws, what are the policies and procedures? what are the services provided to prevent this or for victims and offenders?”
Leslie Mendez, an attorney-at-law, said that they are working with organizations that assist victims of sexual assault.
Leslie Mendez – Attorney-at-Law: “At this point in time what we are doing is our consulting and trying to really hear from the community and the organizations that really work with sexual offense victims so that they can help us identify where the law really does provide for the situation on the ground and so far what we have proposed based on the first draft that we have drafted is really based on drafts on Acts that we saw in various countries in the region as well as Ms. Dorla indicated the CARICOM model build on sexual offenses so that is what we are starting to work with. In terms of that we are considering the position on marital rape in Belize, we are considering the differences with respect to the offense of sexual assault and rape. We are also discussing possible gender neutrality of our laws and pushing for gender neutrality of our laws and so this is the first step and this form is really what is helping us to identify the deficiencies in the laws.”
The project is being funded by the British High Commission and the US Embassy.