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In Trinidad and Tobago, the Sexual Offences Act Chapter 11:28 provides legislation related to all sexual offences in this country. This article will seek to assist the reader in understanding the major sexual offences and the mandated penalties.

What is Rape?
The Act defines ‘Rape’ as when someone has sexual intercourse with the victim without the victim’s consent or is reckless as to whether the victim is consenting. Sexual intercourse can be either vaginal or anal.

A person will be guilty of rape if the consent of the victim is gained through bodily force, or fear of harm to the victim or another person, through impersonation, through the use of fraudulent representations or by detaining the victim. 

A person who commits the offence of Rape is liable to be imprisoned for life. If the offence occurred under the following circumstances, the offender would be imprisoned for the remainder of his natural life: -

  1. If the victim is under the age of twelve.
  2. If two or more persons commit the offence with the assistance or in the presence of any third party.
  3. That the offence happened under very terrible circumstances.
  4. If the victim was pregnant at the time of the offence and the offender knew that this was so. 
  5. The offender was convicted of rape previously. 

The act also allows for compensation to be paid to the victim by the offender.

Can a Husband Rape his Wife?
The act states that a husband can be charged with raping his wife. It goes on to include persons living together for more than five years in the definition of “husband” and “wife”.

What is Grievous Sexual Assault?
This offence means the penetration of the vagina and/or anus of the victim by a body part other than the penis of the accused or a third person. This offence also includes the penetration of an object by the accused into the vagina or anus of the victim or third person but does not apply when done for medical purposes. The placing of the penis into the victim’s mouth, or the placing of the mouth of the accused onto the victim’s vagina is also included. It carries the same penalties as rape. 

What is Serious Indecency?
‘Serious Indecency’ is defined as an act other than sexual intercourse involving the use of a person’s genital organ for arousing or gratifying sexual desire. This section does not apply to a husband and wife in private, or to persons above the age of sixteen who have both consented to the act. This carries a penalty of five years imprisonment. 

What is Indecent Assault?
An indecent assault means an assault which is accompanied by words, or circumstances indicating an indecent intention. This includes touching or groping, for example. A minor under the age of sixteen years cannot consent to an act which would amount to an assault under this section. A person found guilty of indecent assault is liable to imprisonment for five years. 

What is Incest?
The offence of incest occurs when a person is related through blood and may be his or her parent, child, brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, niece, aunt or nephew, and has sexual intercourse with that person. If a person who commits the offence does so under restraint, duress or fear, that person will not be guilty of the offence. The penalty for incest is imprisonment for life. 

Is it Legal for Two Men to Have Sex?
In 2018 the Sexual Offences Act was amended to read 'buggery' means sexual intercourse without consent’ anally with a male and a male or male and female persons. Someone is liable to twenty-five years imprisonment if convicted under this section. Consensual sex between two male persons is therefore legal.

Children and Sexual Offences
The Sexual Offences act defines a “minor” as a person under eighteen years of age, while an adult is defined as a person of eighteen years or more. Under the Children Act, a “child” is also defined as a person under the age of eighteen years old. A child or minor is unable to give consent for sexual intercourse.

Under the Children Act, a person who sexually penetrates a child is liable to imprisonment for life, while the sexual touching of a child under the age of sixteen years makes one liable for up to twenty years imprisonment. The Children Act also mandates that a person responsible for a child who causes the prostitution of that child is liable to imprisonment for life. 

The Sexual Offences act provides that any person who has the control of a child, has reasonable grounds to believe that a sexual offence has been committed against that child and fails to report this as soon as possible to the TTPS, is liable to a fine of $50,000.00 and up to seven years imprisonment. 

Is there a Sexual Offenders Registry?
In March 2023 of this year the T&T Public Sex Offenders website was launched by the TTPS. The registry was formerly private, but an amendment to the act by the Sexual Offences Amendment Bill 2021 gave the TTPS the authority to publicly list the names of sexual offenders on the website. As of March, this year, photographs, locations and details of the offence for sixteen sexual offenders were listed on this website. 

Submitted by:

Nicholas Rampersadsingh 
Public Defender Senior 11
Public Defenders’ Department 
Legal Aid and Advisory Authority,
23 Stanmore Avenue, Port of Spain.
Contact: 638-5222 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in The Trinidad Express News Paper on Wednesday 24th October, 2023