Change the age of consent to 18
There is confusion in the law over whether a person becomes an adult at age 16 or 18 and retired magistrate Faith Marshall-Harris wants it cleared up.
“The law is confused. There is the Minors Act, which speaks of the age of majority at 18, but when you put that one Act against about six others that talk about 16, you realize you can’t make any blanket statement,” she told a meeting of the Barbados Association of Professional Social Workers over the weekend.
She noted that under the law, 16 was the age of consent. It is also the recognized age of majority under the Education Act, as well as in terms of the country’s labour and juvenile justice laws.
“You go right through all our legislation and you’ll find it more to be 16 than 18,” said Marshall-Harris.
Furthermore, “the Constitution by implication suggests that you need a doctor or a guardian with you if you are charged [until] the age of 16.
“What is implied there is that at 16 you are on your own. So that is where our dilemma is.
“I hope one of these days we are able to change it to 18,” she added.
Marshall-Harris, a member of the Family Law Council, also welcomed plans for the establishment of a family court on the island, saying it was generally accepted in common law jurisdictions that the family court was the best way of handling family matters, as well as those involving children.
“At the end of the day the child is a child of two persons and even if those two persons decide that they want to go their separate ways, the child should never suffer as a result . . . the way it [the family court] approaches these matters is significantly different to other courts,” said Marshal-Harris, who presided over an informal family court for 10 years.