A female British barrister says that the law should be changed so that sex is legal at 13. The reason for this is so that older men will stop being sent to prison for sex with a minor.
Allow legal sex at 13 to stop 'old men abuse persecutions', says barrister
The age of consent for sex should be lowered to 13 years-old to end the ''persecution of old men'' in the wake of the Savile sex abuse scandal, a leading barrister has claimed.
In a controversial intervention, Barbara Hewson, a senior barrister at Hardwicke chambers in London, also called for the end of anonymity for complainants. The lawyer, who specialises in reproductive rights also claimed crimes committed by disgraced broadcaster Stuart Hall were ''low level misdemeanours''.
Campaigners today criticised the ''outdated and simply ill-informed'' views, which it said ''beggars belief'' from a highly-experienced barrister. Her article also provoked an internal row within her chambers, which launched an "investigation" into the claims.
But amid the storm of condemnation, she stood by her comments today as she quoted François-Marie Arouet, the 18th century philosopher, in her bid to defend her "opinion". Her comments come as Scotland Yard operates Operation Yewtree, an investigation split into three inquiries into allegations involving deceased presenter Jimmy Savile, involving Savile and others and those involving just others.
This article got several remarks from my well respected friends. Some of their remarks puzzled me as they were quite negative and suggesting that lowering the legal age for sex was akin to "making murder legal," or something like "Satan worshipping."
I think my good friends, while well-meaning, are confused on the real issue here. I think the real issue is a question of personal freedom and self-responsibility. Now, I won't go too much into the fact (and a bit off issue) that there are untold numbers of young girls (and boys) who are prostitutes at very young ages. I would venture to guess that there are some as young as 10 or even younger.
I wrote to my friends concerning the question of the government deciding the legal age of marriage:
I wish you'd consider this. Why does the government have the right to decide this? For several millennia things like were decided by families and religions and religious beliefs. What makes the government (guffaw!) any more of a credible judge in matters like this?
Why is it the government says, in the USA for example, that a young man or woman can get married at 18, join the army and go kill people or get killed overseas, drive a car, have an abortion, but they cannot go to the store to buy a beer? It's arbitrary and it's absurd.
The problem is that when we allow the government to decide these things, it opens a can of worms about other rights that they decide arbitrarily.
It isn't my business what another family wants to do... Only my family is my business.... There might be special circumstances whereby marriage at a early age is considered "OK" by some people. I don't know what's best for other people; just as they do not know what's best for me.
I then linked to a History of legal age of marriage on Wikipedia:
Historically, the age of consent for a sexual union was determined by tribal custom or was a matter for families to decide. In most cases, this coincided with signs of puberty: menstruation for a girl and pubic hair for a boy.
In Ancient Rome, it was very common for girls to marry and have children shortly after the onset of puberty. Roman law required brides to be at least 12 years old. In Roman law, first marriages to brides aged 12 through 24 required the consent of the bride and her father; but, by the late antique period, Roman law permitted women over 25 to marry without parental consent. The Catholic canon law followed the Roman law.
In the 12th century, the Catholic Church drastically changed legal standards for marital consent by allowing daughters over 12 and sons over 14 to marry without their parents' approval, even if their marriage was made clandestinely. Parish studies have confirmed that late medieval women did sometimes marry against their parents' approval. The Catholic Church's policy of considering clandestine marriages and marriages made without parental consent to be valid was controversial, and in the 16th century both the French monarchy and the Lutheran church sought to end these practices, with limited success.
In western Europe, the rise of Christianity and manorialism had both created incentives to keep families nuclear and thus the age of marriage increased; the Western Church instituted marriage laws and practices that undermined large kinship groups. From as early as the fourth century, the Church discouraged any practice that enlarged the family, like adoption, polygamy, taking concubines, divorce, and remarriage.
Do not misunderstand what I am saying here; I do not approve of what these young people are doing; I also do not approve of their life situation. But it isn't my life; it's theirs. It is sad that these young people feel they have to prostitute themselves or they live in a situation - perhaps a desperately poor country torn by war or they have no parents - that they do what they do to survive.
Of course we are talking about children here, but what is an adult? It is not up to the government to take care of children, it is up to the parents. The fact is that today, there are untold numbers of young people prostituting themselves; it is a crime and it is against the law in most places, but guess what? In spite of being a crime, it's still going on. It's going on right now not only in the most desperate parts of Africa, but it is going on in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and most big cities. Yet, it is certainly against the law.
To think that it is not is foolishly naive.
By the way, 1950s rock super star Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year-old cousin, Myra. Is he a nut? Maybe he is (but in those days, in the South, things like that happened all the time - so what? Who am I to judge what they do?) Is it any of our business? No, it's not (I still think he is a rock & roll hero in spite of that). It isn't our business and it most certainly isn't the business of the central government. Oh, and another thing, am I confused or do we sometimes rail on some people for believing in a "god" yet, here, we talk about Satan? If we don't believe in god, we can't believe in Satan... I think..... Someone check me out on my logic there, willya?
Ignore the comments about Satan. Many of my friends seem to be atheists, yet they mention Satan like it/he/she is a fact? That seems a contradiction, no?
My point in this issue is not that this matter of 13-year-olds having sex is in any way morally right or to be condoned or not condoned. Personally, I do not condone it for me or my family. But my issue is, as I said, one of personal freedom and self-responsibility; if the parents or the church or their religion does not dictate behavior, then who are the government to do it? I think it's the government that is messing things up so that, in many cases, the kids have to do things like prostitution just to survive. For just one view on that read this: How the West is Responsible for all the Problems in the Middle East. (Even Socialists who fail to see that since government is the cause of the problem, a different government is not the solution... But even a broken clock is right twice a day. Please refer to: The politics of famine.)
I can guarantee you that I took care of my own kids as best I could in my household and did my best to raise my children; my kids did not prostitute themselves at 13 or 16 or 25. Why? Even though they lived in a broken home, I made sure they had what they needed and felt loved and had a high self worth and some government wasn't bombing us and killing their father and mother.
I can't speak for other households. You and I have zero control over what other people do.
It is sad that these other children do these things; but the fact remains that they do so in spite of the government passing laws over and over to try to "fix" these problems. These poor people live in a situation, in many ways not of their own making, where they do these things to live.* The government has made child-prostitution a heavy crime for ... Yet it continues to this day. One can do a simple Google search and find a plethora of articles stating that child prostitution and trafficking are increasing... Is this not evidence that the policy isn't working and we need to rethink what we are doing?
Wasn't it Einstein who said, "Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity"?
Ultimately, what I want to say is that the way we have been doing things (concerning government laws dictating what you can and cannot do; put into your body, eat or drink... Whether you can gamble or take drugs, etc...) Hasn't worked. The old way isn't working. We need to think about a new way of doing things.
Like I said, proof of that claim comes from the fact that, say in the case of drugs, the Drug War is a miserable failure; also, in spite of the fact that prostitution and gambling is illegal, you can go to any big city in America, any time of the day and find an underaged prostitute, gamble or buy drugs.
If that isn't a failed policy, I don't know what is.
I don't know what the age for sex should be. I don't think the government does either. That's the issue here. Hate to harp on it, but "underaged sex" has been going on for the last 50 years (Ha! Last 5000 years) and laws haven't stopped it. I only know that we as individuals have to take care of our children; the government can't do that.
Government can't fix these things. If the government could fix our problems, don't you think they would have done so long ago? The only thing the government can do is to get out of the way and try to create an environment where everyone can be and do their best; perhaps then, young children might have opportunities to get jobs and create money without having to risk their lives by prostituting themselves.
What else can we do but to hope and work for that goal?
NOTES: My good friend Don Cooper chimes in:
So as a father this is a sensitive issue but if you're not consistent with your principles then why have them? Anything the government prohibits will have a much more dangerous black market for it, alcohol, drugs, guns, prostitution and child porn is no exception.
So, the question is: who's responsibility is it to protect your children? It's yours! The state has absolutely no authority to tell people they can't make child porn, but if parents protect their children, then where are they going to get the children for the porn? And if a parent does sell their child for child porn then that's no different than a parent giving their child alcohol, drugs, guns or selling them for prostitution or beating them or any of another hundred things that could be detrimental for the child.
But the solution is never state force because the state will always do more harm than good. There is no utopia and bad people will always do bad things even to children. The best any society can do is to hope families care enough to intervene on the part of the child.
Thanks to my friend, James Santagata