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Age of consent lowered to 13 so men are not prosecuted

(44 Posts)
impty Thu 09-May-13 10:26:21

So the way to stop old men being prosecuted is to change the law so molesting teenagers is no longer a crime. So says female barrister Barbara Hewson.

She's on twitter btw if you fancy commenting to her directly.

I am outraged at this. I am wondering if she's trying to generate publicity. I can see no other reason for talking such rubbish.

FreyaSnow Fri 24-May-13 10:45:26

The age of consent in Australia is 16, not 14. Most countries that have age of consent of 14 have additional laws which protect 14 and 15 year olds from sexual relationships with adults. So their laws are pretty similar to ours.

funnyperson Tue 14-May-13 19:51:12

It is not daily mail hysteria. It is my personal experience following 30 years as a paediatrician working with school nurses and my own observation at my dd's school.
By abuse I mean underage sex. It is a sign of the times and the heart of the problem in my view that underage sex with a boy the same age or similar isn't considered abuse.
The trouble is that GP's and school nurses are so convinced they are on the moral high ground with underage sex that the default is not to tell the parents, and in my view this puts the young girls more at risk and creates a culture whereby the parents are never given the chance to protect their offspring because they aren't told what is going on

edam Sun 12-May-13 11:10:13

funnyperson, GPs and nurses do not 'hand out the pill like sweeties'. That's Daily Mail hysteria.

Think about confidentiality logically. If an underage girl is having sex, do you really think it's a good idea that she becomes pregnant? That's what the pill prevents. If GPs and nurses were forbidden to hand out the pill, girls would become pregnant. How does that help?

Second problem: very sadly, some of those girls will indeed be victims of abuse. By their parent. What do you think that parent will do if they think the girl has told a trusted adult?

Third problem: some of those girls will have parents with very strict views about sex before marriage, family honour and shame. What do you think those parents would do if nurses and GPs were obliged to tell them? Do you not think they would be at risk?

We have to have systems that deal with worse-case scenarios. You may not like the idea of your daughter having sex under-age. Do you really want her to get pregnant as well? Do you really want other girls to get pregnant? Do you want victims of incest to be killed by their abusers? Do you want girls who come from families with particular views about sexual morality to be killed?

GPs and nurses should indeed consider whether any under-age girl may be the victim of abuse. They should take steps to protect that girl. Forcing them to tell the parents would, sadly, put some of those girls at risk. It would also stop girls seeking help from GPs and nurses - increasing the risk of teenage pregnancy and aiding abusers, rather than stopping them.

TheFallenNinja Sun 12-May-13 10:44:59

The age is consent is simply a number. You could raise it or lower it or keep it the same, it's almost irrelevant.

A number will not prevent abuse.

My personal view is that the "learned" barrister should keep her opinions (and it is an opinion that carries no more weight than if it was espoused by a plumber or a traffic warden) to herself and my message to her would be stop fucking experimenting with my children because you would like a little less paperwork to do you lazy bastard.

Justaperfectday Sun 12-May-13 10:19:05

Exactly funnyperson. My dd (who has high functioning asd) was raped at 15, by someone of 30 who said he thought she was 16. Her emotional intelligence is of a much younger person.
He was arrested but not charged as there was not enough evidence to show she wasn't consenting and he knew her age.
If the consenting age was reduced this would be happening at an even younger age sad

funnyperson Sun 12-May-13 10:11:41

If the age of consent were to be lowered, then logically so should the age of marriage. Or is only premarital sex OK for 14 year olds?
This would nicely take the UK back to the middle ages.

funnyperson Sun 12-May-13 10:07:57

The question of Gillick competence has been misinterpreted to such an extent that any prescriber can hand out the pill to any articulate under age child with impunity and without asking questions or telling the family and years of abuse can follow.

funnyperson Sun 12-May-13 10:04:57

I found it terrifying the way all the boys at the boys school thought the girls at my DD's school were fair game when they reached 14 and that plying the girls with alcohol was considered fine. The current culture is such that no one, but no one - adult or peer - will protect a 14 year old girl from assault. GP's and school nurses simply hand out the pill like sweeties, without telling the parents and on their moral high horse regarding confidentiality, never questioning why an underage young girl is being abused.

funnyperson Sun 12-May-13 09:59:19

The age of consent should stay at 16
If it were lowered all the boys and old men would justify abuse of 11 year olds by saying they thought they were 13 or 14 year olds.

Sparklymommy Fri 10-May-13 12:14:38

My concern with a lowered age of consent is thus:

As it stands the legal age of consent in this country is 16. However there is leniency in the law whereby sexual relationships between teenagers are rarely investigated or result in prosecution (unless it is forced) from as young as about 14. I myself lost my virginity at 14 and had a sexual relationship with a boy four years my senior. I do not feel that this was "wrong" although at the time the boy was very concerned about me being underage! (Not enough to stop it though!)

However if we reduce the age of consent to 14 then does this mean that leniency level will also be reduced? In corrolation, to 12? I would be VERY uneasy about this! As the mother of a ten year old daughter the idea horrifies me.

Also, as I have said on the other post regarding this matter, there is a world of difference between a pair of teenagers embarking on an experimental sexual relationship and a man old enough to be a girls father or even grandfather, actively seeking young girls to have relationships with. That is just wrong. It is peadophilia and lowering the age of consent would make the situation worse, but reduce the seriousness of the crimes being committed against our young, vulnerable teenagers.

I accept that some teenagers look older than they are, even lie about their age, and there is a grey area, but in the case of Stuart Hall, he has ADMITTED offences against children as young as 9. How can anyone justify that, or call it a mistake? It isn't. It's a gross abuse of status and power and should be treated as the heinious crime it is.

This barrister is not discussing changing the law for any reason other than to de-criminalise the offences that are being uncovered by operation Yewtree. That's disgusting! And I feel VERY strongly that historic cases should be dealt with by the laws at the time of the offences. So her suggestion is pointless anyhow.

TheConstantLurker Fri 10-May-13 12:10:15

Oh sure write away. Maybe learn from the responses?

TheConstantLurker Fri 10-May-13 12:09:04

Imagine all of those people out there who have suffered sexual abuse in the past, who have been given hope in the wake of the Saville enquiries, to have this flung in their faces.

Xenia Fri 10-May-13 12:08:42

However I assume we are all happy to live in a country where I am allowed to write here that I would support a reduction in the age of consent to 14 in the UK? We do not want to live in a nation where everyone has to have the same views on everything. It would be very dull and borderline totalitarian.

TheConstantLurker Fri 10-May-13 12:05:39

I was horrified by the woman's article.
I agreed with the expert (from NSPCC I think) who spoke on radio 4 last night- I look at my 13yr old and know that there is no way she is old enough to give informed consent to sexual intercourse or anything beyond kissing a contemporary.

Xenia Fri 10-May-13 11:49:54

There is certainly no chance of its being lowered.

France has 15. Australia is 14. Albania's sounds sensible - 14 but older if you have not yet reached sexual maturity. Some girls do not start their periods until 14. Germany 14, Italy 14.

cory Fri 10-May-13 07:11:54

In Sweden the age of consent is 15 and I can't say I have a particular problem with that. But I am not sure this is a reason for wanting to lower it in the UK. 14 seems very young. Looking at the stages of life, the age of consent is actually the same for Swedish and British youngsters: it is the year they leave secondary education to start Sixth Form, a transition which in both cultures comes with greater expectations of independence and maturity.

It is about vulnerability to exploitation: as NiceTabard says, the aspect of two young people having consensual, non-exploitative sex is already taken care of.

NiceTabard Thu 09-May-13 22:42:47

Xenia CPS guidance explicitly states that the current law is not intended, and should not be used, to prosecute 13-16yo engaged in sexual relationships unless there are issues around coercion, abuse, vulnerability etc.

So that is already taken care of.

The law exists to protect children aged 13-16 against abuse, expolitation etc.

But then as someone involved in the law I would assume you already know that.

Greythorne Thu 09-May-13 22:30:50

Once again, a classic bonkers comment from Xenia.

Xenia Thu 09-May-13 22:24:16

Plenty of people support a lowering of the age of consent, although I doubt many would agree with me on here. I would reduce it to 14 possibly with a caveat as long as the other person was about your age.

This not the time or phase for this nation to improve children's right and decriminalise teenagers as the nation is caught up in a hang them and flog them campaign combined with a desire to keep children as kidults until hey are about 25. However we are very lucky to live in a state where there is freedom to express views other may not agree with.

What about a mumsnet campaign to lower the age of consent to 14?

KRITIQ Thu 09-May-13 22:07:12

Stressy, perhaps she meant the Eliza Armstrong case, which was set up by Stead for a newspaper expose to highlight the problem of child prostitution. It was rather "tabloidesque" but did draw attention to the issue, but that in itself wasn't what got the law changed.

Josephine Butler, btw, was an amazing and inspiring woman.

NiceTabard Thu 09-May-13 21:34:47

Startail why do you think a 20 year old in education is more at risk than a 20 year old in employment?

I have been puzzling over that part of your post.

NiceTabard Thu 09-May-13 21:32:33

Stuart Hall, amongst his other crimes, assaulted a 9yo, and a count of rape has been left on file.

This woman is going all out to minimise his actions. Anyone who thinks he is being "persecuted" does not have their head screwed on right.

She is not presenting a coherent and thoughtful argument about reducing the age of consent. She is suggesting that the age of consent be lowered in order to protect men like Stuart Hall and Jimmy Saville from facing prosecution. She is basically saying, well you can't expect dirty old men to keep their hands out of little girls knickers so let's legalise it.

And on this thread and the other one, people - who were once girls themselves for chrissakes - are saying they agree! The mind boggles.

EverybodysStressyEyed Thu 09-May-13 21:21:08

should clarify - she doesn't say it in a convincing way but the bits i paraphrased were presented as fact - but the way she writes shows a bias

EverybodysStressyEyed Thu 09-May-13 21:19:39

interesting kritiq - she made out that the age was raised to 16 because some powerful men got caught in a scandal and everyone went po faced about it!

KRITIQ Thu 09-May-13 21:10:05

Haven't time to look at the article in detail, but she's got a couple of things wrong from your account of it Stressy-eyed.

Under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, the age of consent was 12, although "unlawful carnal knowledge" with a girl 10-12 was only considered a misdemeanour. It was only in 1875 the age of consent was raised to 13. Journalist WT Stead and feminist campaigner Josephine Butler fought to raise the age to 16 to tackle the widespread exploitation of young working class girls sold into prostitution - primarily purchased by wealthy men, especially for their sons to "practice on." The age was raised to 16 in 1885.

Butler also campaigned against the Contagious Diseases Act, which saw women detained, forcibly examined and publicly humiliated if accused of being a prostitute. (Although the law was supposedly meant to tackle the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, it only applied to women.)

Victorian values? Depends on how you look at it.

You are right about physical development having no connection to emotional or psychological development. Some girls have precocious puberty at age 7 or 8. If anyone thinks that means they are able to make fully informed decisions about engaging in sexual relationships with adults, they're talking utter rubbish.

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