The House plenum on Friday will be voting on an amendment to the criminal code expanding and updating the definition of rape.
The legislative proposal, brought by main opposition Akel, is expected to pass.
It amends article 144 (CAP 154) of the criminal code, which lawmakers described as outdated.
As it stands, the article states: “Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a female, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or fear of bodily harm, or, in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of the felony termed rape.”
This was considered too narrow a definition for modern times. A person currently convicted of rape is liable to a sentence of up to life imprisonment, although judges have discretion in deciding the number of years.
Under the proposed changes, the penalties become stricter, in most cases entailing a standard sentence of life imprisonment. Also, the commission of the felony applies to anyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
The amendment spells out six different circumstances involving rape or attempted rape.
First, any unlawful vaginal, anal or oral penetration with a penis in another person’s body, without their consent, or with consent but under duress, entails a standard punishment of life in jail.
Second, any vaginal, anal or oral penetration of a sexual nature in another person’s body and/or with an object, without that person’s consent, or with consent but under duress. Persons found guilty will get automatic life imprisonment.
Third, attempted sexual abuse via penetration, entails a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, but the length of the sentence is left at the court’s discretion.
Fourth, coercing another person – through intimidation – to commit rape, will entail standard life imprisonment.
Fifth, coercing another person – through intimidation – to commit sexual abuse by penetrating a third party, likewise provides for standard life imprisonment.
Lastly, coercing another person to have sexual intercourse or commit other acts of a sexual nature, will entail a maximum jail sentence of 10 years.