UPP condemns Gender Affairs Minister for remarks on children ‘consenting’ to sex

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Antigua News Room

The United Progressive Party’s Leadership, Membership and Women’s Forum condemn Dean Jonas, Minister of Gender Affairs, for his insensitive and flawed remarks implying that an underaged girl can consent to sex with an adult male.

Jonas made the remark during an interview on ABS Television, yesterday, November 25, at the start of the observance of  16 Days of Activism.  

The MP for St. George said that sexual relations between a girl of 13 or 14 and a man of maybe twice her age, in certain circumstances, could be said to have the consent of the minor.

“This is very unfortunate,” Political Leader Harold Lovell says.  “At a time like this, when the focus is on getting the public – especially males – to realize that any type of violence against women and girls is wrong, the Minister’s comments are particularly jarring.

“The violation of a child is an extremely serious and disgusting matter that demands condemnation and prosecution.  Not rationalization,” Lovell adds.  “And for a Member of Parliament to remove responsibility from the adult and place it on the child is simply inexcusable.”

Meanwhile, General Secretary Senator Shawn Nicholas says that Jonas ought to be fired for his ignorant and insensitive comments, which, she says, amount to providing a rationale for raping a minor.  

“Under the laws of Antigua & Barbuda, 16 years is the age of consent, and the Minister knows that!  Therefore, there can be no explanation or excuse for his statements,” the Senator declares.

She says she speaks for every member of the Party’s Women’s Forum in expressing her disgust for the Gender Affairs Minister.  “Childhood ought to be sacred, and children must be allowed to be children,” Nicholas says.  “The responsibility of the Minister is to ensure they are protected; not exploited under the guise of non-existent ‘consent.’”

Ironically, the 16 Days of Activism that Jonas was endorsing at the time he made the remarks are aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.