OPEN LETTER To the Honourable Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica

Delia Cuffy-Weekes

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Day 1 of 16 days of activism to reject Violence Against Women and girls

 

Sir

Permit me, through this medium to draw to your attention a matter which is long outstanding in relation to the protection of the children of the lovely island state of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

Seven years ago, on November 25, 2013 I met with you at your office to deliver a petition signed by over 3000 people, supporting the idea of raising the age of consent from sixteen (16) to eighteen (18).  The petition was accompanied by a cover letter that, among other things, justified why the age of consent should be increased.  You, in the presence of Mr. Emanuel Nanthan, indicated that you understood my point of view and that of all the people who had appended their signatures as a sign of their support, but you were unwilling to take such a decision on your own and would therefore discuss same with your Cabinet of Ministers.  I have waited for seven years to see if something would be said to the people of Dominica on this matter but to no avail.

Mr. Prime Minister, do we still believe that the present and future of this country lies on the shoulders of our youth?  Are we being honest when we sing “I believe the children are our future”?  Can I interpret the inaction of this government on this important issue to mean that sixteen year old children will continue to have the right to consent to sexual relations when at the same time the State holds parents responsible for providing food, clothing, shelter and education for the same children? Are you aware of the risks associated with children being sexually active?  Young girls are at risk of teenage pregnancy and the attendant possible complications especially during difficult child birth.  Young people are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, including the dreaded HIV and the increased risk of contracting cervical cancer later on in life.

Sir, the signature of sixteen year olds is not legally acceptable.  This means that they cannot open accounts at financial institutions and would therefore require the signature of an adult, someone eighteen years or older to validate their actions.  These are the same young people who are given carte blanche to go out and have ‘fun’ with whomsoever they please, but in the event of an ensuing pregnancy, the young girl MUST be accompanied by an adult to seek medical attention since it would place the medical practitioner at risk if he/she were to attend to the child in the absence of an adult.

Mr. Prime Minister, a sixteen year old child is vulnerable to sexual abuse, grooming and coercion because they are not yet fully mature and the section of the brain responsible for decision making is not yet fully developed.  This means that people who would prey on these children encounter very little resistance and abuse of our children may happen without responsible adults being aware, unless something catastrophic happens.  The usual cycle is underage sexual activity leading to teenaged pregnancy where the options are an illegal abortion or carrying the baby and either giving it up to someone else or keeping it and facing a life of hardship unless the teenager is very lucky.  Most sixteen year olds are still within the education system and pregnancy may be an abrupt end to their education thus decreasing their employability.  Many young women end up with a number of children as they struggle to care for those they already have.

While no action is being taken to protect our young children from sexual exploitation, there was an urgency to take a bill to Parliament to legalize possession of twenty-eight grams of cannabis.  Has consideration been given to the fact that this ‘legal cannabis’ may be used as another tool in the arsenal of the predators against the young people?  Is the possession of small amounts of cannabis more urgent than legalizing it for medical use?

Sir, my own children are long past the stipulated age of consent but some of the children that I am advocating for are the result of underage sexual activity.  While many single mothers are out there struggling to make ends meet to provide for their children, they are unable to supervise the children and so they are at the mercy of unscrupulous adults who think nothing of taking advantage of them.  A child who would have been nine years old when I launched this petition would now be able to say “yes” to sexual activity.

I humbly request that some consideration be given to the protection of our children especially from people within our society who know better but refuse to act accordingly.  As we enter another season of sixteen (16) days where we focus on rejecting violence against women and girls, I want to highlight the point that allowing children to engage in sexual activity when they are ill equipped to deal with the possible consequences is a form of violence against our children.

Mr. Prime Minister, let it not be said that the nation of Dominica did not care enough about its children, to protect them from people who would take advantage of their vulnerability. Let us do whatever we can to cushion our ‘future’ by creating a safer environment where, according to Tasha P, our children can be children.  In this way we can delay the onset of adult problems until they enter adulthood at the mature age of eighteen.

Together with all the concerned adults who signed and those who did not have the opportunity to sign but have reached out to put their support firmly behind this move, I ask again for the age of consent to sexual activity be moved from sixteen years to eighteen years, the legal age of adulthood in the Commonwealth of Dominica.

 

Respectfully

Delia Cuffy-Weekes

Concerned Dominican.

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27 Comments

  1. My two cents
    November 26, 2020
  2. My two cents
    November 26, 2020

    If children in the English speaking Caribbean under 10 to 19 are sexually active and some with plural partners, how will raising the age of consent logically and scientifically solve or curb this problem?

    Rohan G Maharaj et al (2009) states, “High risk sexual behavior: initiation of sexual activity ≤ 10 years old-19% and those having more than six partners-19%; teenage pregnancy: teens account for 15–20% of all pregnancies and one-fifth of these teens were in their second pregnancy.”

    Secondly, the age of consent differs across the world from 11 the lowest in Nigeria and 25 in Bahrain. Canada, UK, Jamaica for example 16, France is 15, Puerto Rico is 21. Do we raise it to 21 when the sexual exploitation has not been solved?

    We are on the same page when it comes to sexual exploitation and eradicating this from our society, however, I am unconvinced how raising the age of consent will solve this problem. It only puts more young men behind an overcrowded state prison.

  3. Dominican at heart
    November 26, 2020

    I have read the open letter by Mrs. Delia Cuffy-Weekes and I must confess while it is an emotional piece it lacks the scientific evidence to raise the age of consent in Dominica. I am a proponent for raising the age of consent to 18 but I would really like to see more scientific evidence with data to support such a raise

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9
    • Toto
      November 26, 2020

      I suppose you also want scientific evidence to prove people must be 18 before they can vote?

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
    • Braindamage
      November 26, 2020

      Well, for scientific and statistic evidence, take a measuring tape line and visit Stockfarm prison.
      Measure the building and divide the area by the amount of teenage rapist that are in there.
      Then add those that are outside… given by the parenthood Association.. 8-O

    • November 28, 2020

      I support your argument and would add that certain practice will not just dissapear because of the age difference. And across the region were this subject is hotly debated a critical element always seems to be conspicuously missing from the discussion.

  4. 2 cents
    November 26, 2020

    Increasing the age of consent will NOT stop sexual violence. Infact it will INCREASE it. The age is not the issue here because at 16 years an individual is able to make decisions for themselves. The constitution affordeds for that. Your argument is flawed because in dominica the age of criminal responsibility is 12 years.. if u increase the age of consent then that age of criminal responsibility should increase too !

    Ppl must think before they write foolish open letters to the P.M.

    The solution is to be more tough on sexuak crines, NOT to increase the age. Our justice system does not even have enough judges, magistrates and lawyers to accomodate alllll the newly found sexual crimes if the age is increased. THOUROUGHLY think before you write such a letter

    2 cents

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11
    • Toto
      November 26, 2020

      Boy, you really show your worth don’t you, two cents. You mixing age of consent with age of criminal responsibility, foolish argument that.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5
      • 2 cents
        November 26, 2020

        I did not expect u to understand what i am saying. Ur biasness has blinded u. Stop hiding sex. Increasing it to 18 years means 2 ppl who are 17 yrs of age CANNOT consent to sex.. bt they can do cxc and attend college at tht same age right? Allu need to THINK. 16 years is good. What must be done is the state shud hire more magistrates n judges to prosecute the current underage sexual matters in d court. Just increasing d age will nt make it stop. Use ur head. Think. I can tell you and the writer of this article did not think well enough.

    • Reject Violence-Raise the age of consent
      November 29, 2020

      2 cents, while the law should be tougher on sexual predators, your statement “at 16 years an individual is able to make decisions for themselves” is WRONG. That is one of the points Ms. Weekes is making. The 16 yr brain is not fully developed yet. But your comment is the type of thinking of sexual predators, to excuse their evil actions. I guess if a 16 or 50 year old male had sex with your daughter/grand daughter at 16 yrs, you would not think twice about it, because you think she is old enough. Wow! That speaks volumes to your brain development and your use of the word foolish.

      • 2 cents
        December 2, 2020

        If by now you do not reakize the CORRELATION between the age of consent and the age of criminal responsibility then it makes no sense talking to the senseless…. how can u say a 16 year old brain has not developed enough to make an informed decision abt sex… bt a 12 year old brain is developed enough to be able to tell right crom wrong and be criminally held responsible ACCORDING TO THE LAW. U dont see the inconsistency in ur flawed argument? 16 year olds going to college. U telling college children to not have sex? Allu too hypocrite in dat place. Is ppl like allu tht does make allu daughters n grand children hide to have sex and end up being pregnant. Stop being hypocrites n let the 16 year olds hve sex with their peers. HYPOCRITES allu are HYPOCRITES

  5. out of south city
    November 25, 2020

    Very well put together. Hopefully you will receive a positive response. Why should the Prime Minister ignore the very fisrt request? Would he like the same for his daughter when she turns sixteen?
    Keep up the good work, Delia.
    Peace!!!!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2
  6. Ibo France
    November 25, 2020

    The reasons given, and the arguments put forth by this petitioner, Delia Weeks, for raising the legal age of consent from sixteen (16) to eighteen (18) year), are powerful, timely and most convincing. There is nothing more that anyone can say to add to its potency.

    This administration consistently turns a deaf ear to the desperate cries of the people. Anecdotal evidence proves that an overwhelming percentage of the population is in favor of such legislation.

    It’s an educated guess that this type of legislation would never see the dawn of day under the incumbent regime. Mr. Skerrit just implored the country to engage in rabbit-like reproduction. That gives us a clear inkling as to how he is thinking.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  7. me
    November 25, 2020

    well said i am one of those who signed the petition.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0
  8. dalit
    November 25, 2020

    Nonsense.

    And criminalize a generation of young men ? The majority of young women have sex with YOUNG MEN.

    You people are helping keep sex in the dark ages instead of making it easier for people to talk about their experiences and separate the good from the bad.

    SOTNESS!!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10
    • out of south city
      November 26, 2020

      You just do not understand what is being said here. Go back and read and come again. Sex does not know time. From time immemorial it’s been with us and it’s a natural desire. The point that she’s making is in her writing so go and get the facts and stop being illiterate.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2
  9. Nadia Buke
    November 25, 2020

    Thanks you Delia, well said and put together. Our young girls are àt risk with these vultures out there. Unfortunately you forgot the boys but they are also abused by much older men for material things. Our young people should be protected at all times. Where is the the case with this young school girl and three grown men? Was it swept under the carpet! What a shame.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0
    • Galileo
      November 26, 2020

      You and all the others who are supporting raising the age of consent, think logically, getting rid of all emotions and explain to me and others who are not yet convinced, how will increasing the age of consent protect the young ones from sexual abuse. Mind you, I have a six year old daughter and will fiercely protect her but I don’t see raising the age helping. All I see is an increase in the number of sexual crimes. We need to make other interventions as parents and community to protect our children and when all fail and this nasty men attack we don’t tap them on their wrists but punish them harshly and this will serve as a deterrent to potential abusers.

  10. RoRo
    November 25, 2020

    Writing an open letter to this man about issues like that is water of a ducks back. The people of DA and their problems and issues are of no concern to him. What matters to him is to get richer and to cement his power base. To achieve said two matters he will go to great length to deceive, lie and bombard us with propaganda and rethoric. Let’s be honest and ask ourselves, what has this man done for Dominica and the ordinary citizen??

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1
  11. Pipo
    November 25, 2020

    I support this appeal and this has nothing to do with religion and purely for practical humanitarian reasons as outlined by Delia. It should be made an offence to have sexual relations with a minor, someone below the age of 18 whether they gave consent or not and the perpetrator punishable under law.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
  12. Nkrumah Kwame
    November 25, 2020

    Delia, I share your concerns especially as it is the most logical thing to do. At the same time, you have lived in Dominica for the last 20 years and no doubt has seen and heard the statements uttered by “I run things in Dominica”.
    He has bad morals and is a consummate liar. He is not someone who keeps his word when it comes to doing good for the country. It’s been 7 years since we’re waiting for the voter ID cards.
    His response, if you are lucky to get one, will be instead of increasing the age of consent, let’s lower the age at which one can vote and obtain a driver’s license or open a bank account.
    Good luck, though in this undertaking. Too many adults today don’t seem to understand that we did not inherit the land from our forebears, but rather have borrowed it from the youth.
    HOTEP

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2
  13. Get Woke, Go Broke
    November 25, 2020

    Everytime someone comments/complains about the prime minister not doing something, i am reminded of this famous quote:

    “The definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.”

    So by all means… keep electing the same man for 25,30,40 years, because its been working out so well for you… 😒

  14. responsible fatheer
    November 25, 2020

    As a father of three I firm endorse this open letter and petition

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2
  15. Hope
    November 25, 2020

    i have concluded that raising the age of sexual consent to 21 would not have the desired effect that we as a society are looking for unless the law begins to hold parents accountable for their children unlawful actions

  16. Hope
    November 25, 2020

    I want to join my voice with yours in this matter of dire importance. I am very concerned about our vulnerable children …

  17. Goodwill
    November 25, 2020

    I agree 100%. It is more than past the time to deal with this issue for the welfare of our children. Its been too long. Kudos to Delia Cuffy for leading on this matter.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  18. Saga Boys
    November 25, 2020

    Agreed… Well said Delia Weekes. Thank you.

    Increase the age of sexual consent from 16 years to 18 years and help to stop sexual violence against young Dominican girls

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 0

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