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Hong Kong mulls law reforms in underage rape cases

26 june 2011, 10:31
Hong Kong authorities said Friday they were mulling law reforms enabling children under 14 to be charged with rape, amid outrage over the case of a 13-year-old boy who assaulted a girl aged five, AFP reports.

Sentencing the boy on Thursday, Magistrate Adriana Tse reportedly said she was "disgusted" and that current laws dealing with juvenile sex offenders were "wholly and manifestly inadequate".

Under current legislation, Hong Kong, whose legal system is based on English common law, presumes a boy under 14 is incapable of sexual intercourse.

"The administration will introduce legislative amendments to implement the law reform commission's recommendation to abolish the common law presumption," a spokeswoman from the city's security bureau told AFP.

She said the proposed amendment would be carried out "as soon as possible" but said no time frame had been set for debating the bill. The city's law reform commission has described the presumption as "ancient".

The boy, whose identity has been withheld due to his age, was arrested in September last year after he assaulted the girl in a hospital.

The girl's parents reported the attack to police and he was charged with indecent assault as the current legal framework prevented him being charged with rape.

"I am disgusted by this case," Tse said, according to the South China Morning Post, after sentencing the boy to a reform school for between one and three years, depending on his behaviour.

"It is well known that teenagers begin to be curious with sex," said the magistrate at a district's juvenile court, adding that she was shocked that boys and girls were put in the same hospital ward until the age of 18.

Court officials contacted by AFP said they could not release details of the case as it involved minors.

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