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Falconer: Raise age of consent

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Falconer: Raise age of consent

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) – A junior government minister says she will push her colleagues to agree to raise the age of consent from 16 to 18 years in a bid to prevent teenage pregnancies.
 “I think as a country, the time has come for us to look at the age of consent. If you cannot vote until you are age 18 years, you cannot legally drink until you are age 18 years, why then should our 16 year old girls or boys be allowed to have sex.
“I do not think they should be allowed to consent, because at that time they are not equipped to make decisions,” said the Minister with responsibility for Information in the Office of the Prime Minister, Sandrea Falconer.
Addressing a Western Region joint Government/ Civil Society/ Non-Government Organisation sensitization session on Caribbean Gender Equality in Montego Bay yesterday, Falconer said she believes that raising the age of consent will help to counteract the country’s high rate of teenage pregnancy.
She said it would also address the breakdown of morals in the society, lamenting the fact that too many children were having children, which they were not equipped to deal with.
She said the situation was leading to a breakdown in the family structure and fuelling the country’s crime problem.
“We need to look at ourselves as we move towards 2030 and decide on the kind of Jamaica we want,” she said, noting that while the government’s role is to set policies and provide resources, it cannot “come into families and help you to train your children in the right and proper way.
“That is the role of a parent,” Falconer added.
Last October, the United Nations warned of the high rates of teenage pregnancies in the Caribbean and called on governments to help girls achieve their full potential through education and adequate health services.
The UN report noted that the countries with the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the Caribbean were Belize, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and St Vincent and the Grenadines.