The Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW) has expressed its concern to the Head of State, President Baldwin Lonsdale that the new law seeking life imprisonment for sexual intercourse with any child should be lifted to cover those under the age of 16.

At an audience with the Head of State last week, the subject of the anticipated new law came up and members of the executive of VNCW that included Acting President Anita Deroin, said that while they were happy and excited about the news of the bill that was going to Parliament, they strongly felt that it should also cover girls up to 16 years of age.

“Why should the law just cover girls under the age of 13 because girls of 13, 14, and 15 are also still just children,” VNCW Executive Director (ED) Leiasmanu Cullwick explained their views to President Lonsdale.

The Head of State was sympathetic to their views and urged them to write to the Government and Parliament to make their views known to them.

“It’s not too late to express your views to relevant authorities before the Bill is discussed in Parliament and I would urge you to write as soon as possible to them,” the President encouraged the women.

The VNCW ED says their letter is ready to go to the Minister of Justice and Community Services copied to the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Government Ministers and backbenchers of Parliament to request they consider lifting the age limit under the new law to persons of age 16.

A Bill for the Penal Code (Amendment) Act No. of 2016 that is going before the Second Ordinary Parliament Session for 2016 starting on December 8 seeking the approval of Parliament to increase the penalty for sexual intercourse with any child under the age of 13 from the current 14 years to life imprisonment.

But VNCW wants the law to cover sexual intercourse with any child up to the age of 16.