Lower age limit for sex offenders, urges magistrate
A magistrate on Thursday called for tougher sentences for boys who commit sexual offences â" saying Hong Kong's current criminal law was inadequate to deal with such cases.
Magistrate Adriana Tse made the comments after sentencing a 13-year-old Korean boy to an unspecified term at a reformatory school for indecently assaulting a five-year-old girl in a hospital ward they were occupying.
The Eastern Juvenile Court earlier heard that the boy pulled off the girl's pants and then molested her when they were in the children's ward at Pamela Youde Eastern Hospital in September last year. The girl's parents later reported the incident to police.
The magistrate said she was "disgusted" by the boy's crime and that he had had been aware of the seriousness of his actions when he committed it.
She also said the punishment was inadequate because, due to limitations in the law, boys of his age could only be charged with indecent assault, despite the fact the girl had been raped.
Under present criminal law in Hong Kong, boys under the age of 14 cannot be charged with rape because the statutes presume they are physically incapable of sexual intercourse.
After the case came to light last year, the government-appointed Law Reform Commission suggested a change in the law that would see the charge of rape applicable to boys the age 10 and above.
The magistrate urged the government to revise the law by lowering this age limit. She noted there had been a number of similar cases involving young boys in recent years in Hong Kong.
Tse also suggested hospitals consider placing boys and girls in separate wards.
"I find it shocking that patients of different sexes are put together until the age of 18, but it is well known that teenagers begin to be curious with sex [before then]," she said.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
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