Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte, says the scope of the sexual harassment problem that’s facing the country is larger than first anticipated.

Addressing the official media launch of the Miss Montego Bay Pageant 2019 and the Miss Montego Bay Foundation, in St. James yesterday, the Attorney General said the first sexual act for the vast majority of young girls in Jamaica is forced.

In fact, Mrs. Malahoo Forte says it’s her information that up to 80-percent of young girls lose their virginity to rape or molestation.

The 80-percent figure being reported by the Attorney General is significantly higher than the previously reported levels of sexual abuse in Jamaica.

The 2016 Jamaica Women’s Health Survey found that 66-percent of women say they lost their virginity before the age of 18.

The survey adds that only a quarter of women between the ages of 15 and 64 have, over their lifetime, experienced intimate partner physical or sexual violence.

But Mrs. Malahoo Forte also says in her experience once a rape matter goes to court, she finds doubt creeps into the minds of jurors, especially if those jurors are women.

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte.

The 2016 Jamaica Women’s Health Survey found almost 16-per cent of women agree that a woman is raped because she may have done something careless to put herself in that situation.

The attorney general says the Andrew Holness led administration takes the issue of sexual violence seriously and is committed to doing all it can to ensure that the right laws and penalties are in place.