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Are age of consent laws a total joke?

(12 Posts)
schomberg Tue 26-Jul-11 03:52:24

A couple of days ago I posted an AIBU on teen sex (summary, q: is it true they're having so much of it? a: yes, sometimes on camera). This piqued my interest so I had a bit of a search through the teenage section to see what MNers are telling their kids about underage sex. The gist seems to be a very stern message about ending up on the sex offenders register as well as a lot of concern about the legal ramifications if underage sex were to happen under their watch.

Yet only a couple of weeks ago I read that an Appeals Court Judge freed six men for having group sex with two twelve year old children in a park on the grounds that their victims ?wanted to have sex? and ‘it is what young people do’.

Is anyone aware of people of around the same age in the UK being successfully prosecuted for having sex, let alone having their parents tried for being accessories? AIBU in wondering the point of having an age of consent without a close in age exemption if it's not going to be enforced if they are close in age? I'm not suggesting that there shouldn't be an age of consent but it seems preposterous to thrust teens in to a legal grey area.

ZonkedOut Tue 26-Jul-11 06:20:44

I read that article, and you seem to be missing the key point that part of the reason the men were released is that they thought the girls were 16. That doesn't make it right, of course, and it does open things up to a defence of ignorance. But this case lands right in the middle of a grey area.

I found the whole thing scary, both what the girls did, and what the men did (even thinking that the girls were 16, group sex with 2 girls of 16 seems wrong to me). And the attitude that it's what kids do. I hope people will be more careful in future.

I don't think it makes a mockery of age of consent laws, though. They still protect against men (and women) deliberately targeting and grooming young children, or taking advantage of being in a position of responsibility.

mysteryfairy Tue 26-Jul-11 07:12:51

As the article cited makes clear the convictions of the men in that case stand. Their sentences have been suspended so their punishment is less severe than that originally imposed, but the case is still an example of a successful prosecution.

2rebecca Tue 26-Jul-11 08:29:58

I wonder why the parents of the 12 year olds only reported them to the police at 2.20am. They were in the park having sex at midnight. My kids are older than 12 but I'd expect them back by 10.
It sounds as though the 12 year olds were allowed to run wild at night from that report and I suspect they did look older than 12 and lie about their age. The men were 19-21 so not exactly seedy old bloke having sex with an 8 year old scenario.
They now have criminal convictions and their faces on the paper and internet and are probably on the sex offenders register. What would locking them away for longer at the tax payers expense achieve?

fedupofnamechanging Tue 26-Jul-11 08:37:05

I think there has to be a differentiation between two teenagers having sex (say one is 15, the other 18) and a grown adult having sex with a 14/15 year old. As things stand they are both considered statutory rape and I think that is wrong.

While two teenagers probably have around the same level of emotional maturity, an adult in their 20's/30's is definitely taking advantage of the emotional immaturity of a teenager and that is abusive and wrong, even if the teenager gives consent.

Andrewofgg Tue 26-Jul-11 17:54:53

The belief that a girl is over sixteen has, since 2004, been a defence if the jury think it was a reasonable belief in all the circumstances - though not if she was not yet thirteen, and quite right too. So there you are, ZonkedOut, that door has been well and truly opened by Parliament.

Andrewofgg Tue 26-Jul-11 17:55:57

Sorry, hit send too soon. But these girls were twelve and so the convictions stand.

OrangeHat Tue 26-Jul-11 18:09:10

"I think there has to be a differentiation between two teenagers having sex (say one is 15, the other 18) and a grown adult having sex with a 14/15 year old. As things stand they are both considered statutory rape and I think that is wrong. "

That is not right. There is no such thing as statutory rape in the UK.

The age of consent is 16. Sex with someone between the age of 13 and 15 inclusive is sex with a minor. It is highly unlikely that someone of a similar age will be prosecuted, in fact I am fairly sure that hardly anyone is prosecuted for consensual sex with children this age.

For children under the age of 13, in law it is not possible for them to consent. Therefore if you have sex with someone under 13 it is always rape. Whatever they do, or say, or look like, the law deems them not to have the maturity to give informed consent to sex.

Which seems pretty clear cut.

Until you look at the case in the OP, where a group of men said "oh well we thought they were older" and get their time reduced - thus making a mockery of the "under 13 no excuses" law.

So there you have it.

OrangeHat Tue 26-Jul-11 18:13:18

What I mean is that an 18 year old is extraordinarily unlikely to prosecute a 15yo and a 18yo having consensual sex, it's not in the public interest. But TBH 35 or 50yo aren't prosecuted for having sex with 15 yo either if they are "in a relationship" from what I read in the papers.

People are prosecuted for non consensual sex and for having sex with children under 13, from what I can see. That's if it comes to the attention of the police and they and the CPS think there is a case - so not very often compared to how much it happens.

LineRunner Tue 26-Jul-11 18:13:26

Andrewofgg is absolutely right. The judge said some dickhead stuff, and reduced the sentence, but the rape convictions stand.

OrangeHat Tue 26-Jul-11 18:14:22

God that's garbled as well.


scurryfunge Tue 26-Jul-11 18:17:49

Teens having consensual sex with each other very rarely get prosecuted. It is usually parents that complain, not the teens themselves. We should not be looking to criminalise teens and the law caters for this adequately....there is no mockery.

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