The Belize Women against Violence in collaboration with the Building People Movement has concluded their final public consultation on a sexual offenses draft legislation. The last consultation was held in Corozal Town where they heard from community members and representatives of organizations and groups that work in the area. The organization is being assisted with the drafting of these laws by Attorney Leslie Mendez.
Leslie Mendez Attorney: “We presented a working document and then we heard from the community with respect to their concerns as it relates to sexual crime. We had really gotten participation in Corozal. A lot of their concern had to do with the enforcement of the laws that we had and as well some areas which we don’t have: legislation, cyber crime, cyber bullying that we saw just last week that erupted on social media but a lot of their concerns have to do with follow through and the support. Right after, what we will do is now we will take the recommendations and actually make amendments and improvements to the drafts that we have right now. What we were looking to do is one: enforcing some of the laws and penalties that are attached to some of the offenses that have been increased or we are proposing for them to be increased. We have also made a comprehensive Act on sexual offenses which we know currently some of them are in the criminal code. We also have the creation of a few different offenses and we have a recommended amendment for marital rape and so those are some of the main cases that we have now but after the recommendations it will look completely different because we have had recommendations in a lot of areas.”
The legal presentations were also done by Attorney Monica Coc Magnusson. The work is being funded by the British High Commission and the US Embassy. The organizations seek to make sexual assault an offence, remove the restrictions to the law on marital rape, create cybercrime laws, increase penalties for sexual offenses and make laws gender neutral.