Monday, 2 June 2014

Age of Consent - a discourse

The English age of consent, that is the age at which a person can choose to lawfully engage in sexual intercourse is 16 years of age.

Historically, there has been a different AoC for Homosexual activity, but this is now standardised across the board at 16 years of age. At that age, a person is considered to be endowed with enough sense and capability, and enough knowledge of the consequences of their actions to enjoy sexual activity with a consenting partner.

But why is the AoC 16? On what basis was the decision for 16 made?

Originally the age of consent in England was set at 12. However, in 1875 the Offences against the Person Act 1875 raised it to 13 in Great Britain and Ireland. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 raised it to 16, where it has remained ever since.

Additionally, until 2003, this age of consent only applied to women, as men were deemed capable of consenting to sex, and therefore committing rape, at age 14 (Nowadays, in this enlightened age, a boy of ten can be charged with rape)

And against this you need to look at the age of majority in the UK.

Up until 1970, a person was considered a child until their 21st birthday. As a result, the Age of Consent at that time was 5 years before you achieved adulthood. Prior to the change in the law, it was 9 years before reaching adulthood. By comparison, nowadays, it's two years before you achieve your majority.

If you look at other countries, even in Europe, the average age of consent is 15. And virtually every country in Europe has a "Close in Age" defence or exemption. Except the UK.

This means that if your 15 year old son sleeps with his 16 year old girlfriend, she is a sex-offender.

Yet, and in my view, crazily, the UK High Court has decided that while a 15 year old girl can't consent to sex, she can ask her doctor for contraceptives, and the doctor cannot tell her parents, or the authorities about this? So the Doctor knows this girl is about to be abused (after all, Child Sex Offences are Child Sex Abuse) yet not only can't tell anyone, but gives her the tools she needs to be safely abused with!

So, back to how this Age of Consent was determined. Research about the maturity of our young folk? Or maybe by questioning people around that age themselves about what they want or need to protect them? No. A few stuffy old men in Parliament voted for it in 1885, when Teenagers hadn't even been invented.

And despite the age of consent bearing no relevance to the teenage pregnancy figures in the UK, successive governments have made the penalties for breach heavier and heavier to the point where merely asking his 15 year old girlfriend to show her breasts can get an 18 year old imprisoned for 10 years, even if she is on the pill. A 13 year old girl pregnant by a 12 year old boy? He's going down for 14 years, she's going down for life!

And in this environment, the authorities will argue that they never charge teenagers with sex offences in their own peer group. So why not enshrine that in law? Have a "Close in Age" defence. or even a "Close in Age" exemption. If two 14 year olds want to get down and dirty, and it's consensual, who gets hurt?

Age of Consent in UK? Time for reform.

Remember, the people causing the most sexualising of our youth is... our youth.

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