Victims of sexual offences now have greater protection and a clearer pathway to justice following the implementation of a new law.
Work on the Sexual Offences (Jersey) Law 2018, which involved collaboration with organisations including the Women’s Refuge, Brook and the Sexual Assault Referral Centre, has taken more than two years.
The law updates and clarifies the definition of a number of sexual offences including upskirting – the practice of taking unauthorised photographs under a person’s skirt – and female genital mutilation. Victims of any gender will have more protection under the new law, which specifies that sexual offences can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, by a perpetrator of any gender.
Additionally, when an adult commits a sexual offence against a child in their care, the new law gives victims more protection than the UK equivalent. While the UK law, for example, criminalises teachers who abuse their position of trust by committing a sexual offence against a child at the school in which they work, the Jersey law offers protection regardless of school, and extends the law to cover sports coaches – who are not referred to in the UK law.
Another area to be clarified is the issue of consent which, according to the new law, cannot be given if a person is asleep, unconscious or incapable of consenting due to alcohol or any other substance. Furthermore, consent can be taken back at any time before or during the act; if the act still takes place or continues then it does so without consent.
The new law also states that a victim’s sexual history can only be used as evidence if the court has stipulated what facts can be used – ending the current situation in which an attacker who had previous sexual relations with their victim can use this as a defence.
A Guide to the Sexual Offences (Jersey) Law 2018 has been published in English, Portuguese and Polish, and is available HERE.
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