2008-02-13

Keep Your Daugthers Lockep Up, Canadian Age of Consent Still 14 thanks to Senate

 
The Senate hasn't passed the crime bill yet and that bugs the Conservatives. One of the items in the crime bill is raising the age of consent from 14 to 16 with a five year provision* allowing 14 year olds to give consent to 19 year olds. If you are 20, you will have to be content with 15 and up. 21, you can only go as young as 16, same as the rest of us.
 
*(I think, after reading the bill, I'm no longer sure of the part in italic)
 
So how many people over 20 are having consensual relations with 14 year olds? Can't be that many. Consensual being the key word. You can't even use alcohol or money or be in any position of authority.
 
Raising the age of consent may feel good, but what will it accomplish? It will make having relations with a 14 year old the same crime as having relations with a 11 year old. Shouldn't there be a legal difference, with significantly different punishments?
 
On the world stage, 14 is definitely on the young side. In many Spanish speaking countries, however, it is 12 (as it used to be in Canada until 1890) and it is 13 in neighboring Japan and Spain, 14 in Iceland, 15 in canoe reachable France (Miquelon) and Denmark (Greenland). In the USA, it is often higher: In some US states, the age of consent is 18, with no provisions for 18 and 17 year old couples!
 
I say, if it ain't broke, why fix it. Clearly, a few teenagers are having, and will continue to have, consensual relations with adults. Are there studies out there showing these teens have been traumatised or negatively affected in any way? I remember being 14, there arn't to many 20 year old women I would have said no to... And I hate to shock people, but if I met a girl in a bar, reasonably thought she was in her late teens or early 20s, brought her home and she says yes, I'm half drunk and she is half undressed,  a "by the way I'm turning 16 next tuesday" isn't going to stop us.
 
I don't know about you, but I'm fundamentally againts laws I could easely be seduced into breaking... So were others.
 
And logically, if a 15-20 couple is OK, why would a 15-21 couple be a seriour crime?  
 
By the way, I can usually tell a 13 year old from a 18 year old. But, let's face it, at least 50% of 15.5 year olds could pass for much older. I'm not really worried about about accedently being seduced by someone underage, but I am woried about locking up Romeos.
 
More to the point, what has changed? Why do we feel the need to raise the age of consent every 100 years or so? Is puberty happening later? Have May-December romances become so sociably acceptable, that we need a law to stop them?
 
 
  A. In Support of the Status Quo

Perhaps the strongest policy argument against raising the age of consent from 14 to 16 is that it would place unprecedented limits on the sexual freedom of young persons. Hence, proponents of such a change may be challenged to provide empirical evidence demonstrating that adolescents under 16 are being sexually exploited or, alternatively, that the incidence of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases among that age group calls for an expansion of the existing prohibitions. It must be noted that simply raising the age of consent to 16 would criminalize sexual activity between adolescents that is now legal. Because the modern sexual assault provisions of the Criminal Code no longer depend upon proof of intercourse, such an amendment could allow a 16-year-old to be prosecuted for virtually any sexual contact with a 15-year-old boyfriend or girlfriend.

Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and AIDS Study (says average age for first intercourse is 14.1)

 
Google age of consent for more information on the subject.

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