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Gender neutral sex offences on the way

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Justice
Media Statement

17 April 2003

Gender neutral sex offences on the way

Amendments to the Crimes Act making it an offence for women to have sexual intercourse with minors will be put before Cabinet within the next two months, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today.

Once approved by Cabinet, the amendments would be sent for drafting and Mr Goff expects to introduce the bill by the end of the year.

Under the Crimes Act 1961, it is illegal for a man, but not for a woman, to have intercourse with children under 16, an anomaly Mr Goff said was based on an outmoded assumption that women were incapable of committing sex offences.

"I have raised concerns about this issue before, and as I foreshadowed at the time, the matter will be dealt with as part of a wider bill that will make all sex offences under the Crimes Act gender neutral," Mr Goff said.

"Under the Act it is currently an offence for males to have any sort of sexual behaviour with a boy under 16; to commit an indecent act with a girl under 16; to have sexual intercourse with a female under 20 living under his care or protection, or to engage in sexual intercourse or indecent acts with a severely subnormal female. However it is not an offence for women to engage in the same sort of behaviour.

"In these circumstances females can only be prosecuted as parties to offences committed by males, and there is no redress for the victims, such as ACC cover for mental injury.

"Amending the Crimes Act to make sex offences gender neutral will ensure that all perpetrators and victims are provided for, regardless of their gender, and that the Act is relevant to more recent changes in criminal behaviour," Mr Goff said.

"The gender neutrality amendments are part of a major review of all sexual offences under the Crimes Act.

"Other changes will extend the scope of a number of sex offences against children and people with disabilities to cover indecency and various forms of sexual connection; new offences that will provide more effective redress for people with disabilities, and people subject to sexual abuse by family members, and the repeal of time limits on charging someone with sexual offences against children aged between 12 and 16," Mr Goff said.


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