How about nine? Is that young enough?


An item from the Onion?

A prominent barrister specialising in reproductive rights has called for the age of consent to be lowered to 13.

Barbara Hewson told online magazine Spiked that the move was necessary in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal to end the “persecution of old men”.

No, the BBC, but the source is Spiked, so it might as well be the Onion (except the Spiked crew think they’re serious).

Let’s create an age of consent for murder, to end the persecution of murderers.

She argues for an end to complainant anonymity, a strict statute of limitations to prevent prosecutions after a substantial amount of time has passed and a reduction in the age of consent to 13.

She said that “touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt” are not crimes comparable to gang rapes and murders and “anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality”.

Good idea! Let’s totally stack the deck against victims of sexual assault so that it’s not just difficult for them to report their assaults, but impossible.

[opens the Spiked article] Ah yes of course – what is Spiked saying? That it’s a “witch-hunt of ageing celebs.”

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Yewtree is destroying the rule of law

With its emphasis on outcomes over process, the post-Savile witch-hunting of ageing celebs echoes the Soviet Union.

Barbara Hewson

I do not support the persecution of old men. The manipulation of the rule of law by the Savile Inquisition – otherwise known as Operation Yewtree – and its attendant zealots poses a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did.

Now even a deputy speaker of the House of Commons is accused of male rape. This is an unfortunate consequence of the present mania for policing all aspects of personal life under the mantra of ‘child protection’.

Witch-hunt and inquisition – that reminds me of something…

H/t Bernard Hurley

Comments

  1. says

    She said that “touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt” are not crimes comparable to gang rapes and murders and “anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality”.

    So where does consent come into this? Even if the age of consent was reduced, if no consent was given by these hypothetical 13, 16 and 17 year-olds (two of whom are already of-age here in Britain), they are still crimes of sexual assault. Men like Stuart Hall should still be prosecuted because his victims did not want to be touched by him and he was shielded by a position of wealth, fame and privilege.

    Putting a hand up a 16 year-old’s skirt might not be a crime comparable to a murder, but that’s not the bloody point. Crimes such as theft and fraud are not comparable to murder either, because we are not foolish enough to compare apples and oranges. However, they remain crimes for which the perpetrator should do time.

    The interesting thing about ages of consent is that they come with a built-in assumption that underage boys and girls are unable to give consent. Those assumptions are uncomfortably patriarchal and remove the possibility of agency from youngsters. But there are strong reasons for having them and they remain a profound protection for youngsters from older predators, particularly those in positions of influence and power. The normal excuses wheeled out to defend against accusations of sexual assault, such as sluttiness or implied consent, tend to go out of the window when dealing with the underaged. Nonces earn little sympathy in the public square and there’s something to be said for that.

  2. Sercee says

    I don’t understand the “persecution of old men” thing. Most old men I know don’t do any of those things. It’s been a long day so I might be too tired to see humor, but it just sounds to me like she (a woman?!) is advocating to allow old guys to fondle children a la bad hentai… why is this a good idea?

  3. says

    To give some context, here in Britain the age of consent is 16 (or 18 where the older person is in a position of trust). The age was raised from 12 (marriageable age under medieval law) to 13 in 1875 due to concern that young girls were being sold into brothels. This was a period in which child advocacy groups were raising public consciousness in matters such as child abuse. However, there was another fascinating rationale that drove the legislation of 1875 and later in 1885: specifically the possibility that wealthy but underage heiresses could be seduced for pecuniary advantage. As ever, a law was crafted for the protection of wealth.

    The age of consent was then raised to 16 in 1885, also as part of a law intended to suppress brothels and the flesh trade in young girls. Famously, the Pall Mall Gazette colluded with the Salvation Army in the then-legal purchase and trade of a 13 year-old virgin for export abroad. The exposé helped boost a languishing bill in Parliament that became the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. (FYI, the poor girl, whose name was Eliza Armstrong, was given over to the care of the Sally Army.)

    What Hewson advocates is, I suppose, a return to ‘Victorian values’, the kind of legislation that compromises the security of youngsters. However, it makes old men sleep safer at nights, so I suppose in Hewson’s mind that’s alright, then.

  4. says

    I don’t understand the “persecution of old men” thing.

    The Jimmy Savile case has mushroomed. A number of now very aged TV entertainers find themselves accused of sexual assault, for crimes that date back to the ’60s and ’70s. These are household names and I’m saddened to hear that people who I have fond memories of turn out to have been predators.

    One of the most recent cases was that of Stuart Hall, an avuncular and entertaining sports commentator. Hall has pled guilty to a number of charges and he should rightly, to my mind, be punished for being an abuser.

    I’ve been waiting the moment that someone would start saying that ‘enough was enough’ and that Operation Yewtree, the ongoing investigation into abuse, should end, particularly if it starts to afflict the better-connected amongst the great and the good. It was inevitable that a backlash would start somewhere. I’m just surprised and dismayed that it comes from someone advocating such a foolish-sounding policy.

  5. iainr says

    @6 – to add a little more context, the “age of consent” is 16, but the age at which consent can be given is actually 13 if you lie about your age. Legally, in the UK, if you have sex with a 12 year old then that is rape, with a 13 year old who consented (outside of certain pupil-teacher type relationships where you both have to be 18) then it’s only rape if you can reasonably be shown to have known they weren’t 16.

    In the context of this anomaly calling for the age of consent to just be 13 is understandable, not that I agree with it but there is an anomaly in the law. I would prefer to see it closed in the other direction.

    Using Operation Yewtree as a reason to make this change and characterising same as a victimisation of old men is despicable.

  6. notsont says

    I’m guessing the reasoning must be that back in the 60s and 70s the law did not apply to rich, famous, white, men, so its totally unfair to apply it to them now just out of a sense of fairness now that times have changed a bit.

  7. Gretchen Robinson says

    Jerry Sandusky comes to mind in the persecution of old men. Poor baby, now he’s in jail. May he rot there.

  8. evil is evil says

    I am 65. I have gone through the whole rape thing with 3 to 5 women. No convictions. The other 7 to 15 women that I tried to get to go through the “justice” system and simply “tag the bastards” were right. I should have just let the rapes slide. The sole consolation to me is that maybe in a cold day in hell, one of the rapists was tagged and nailed later. I caused some women a great deal of grief for no results. Waste of their time and emotions.

  9. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    As Hall has admitted having sex with a nine-year-old child- still rape by Hewson’s definition- her proposals would not stop the prosecution of aged criminals.,

  10. says

    To add a little more context, the “age of consent” is 16, but the age at which consent can be given is actually 13 if you lie about your age.

    Thank you iainr. I did not know that.

  11. 'dirigible says

    “Using Operation Yewtree as a reason to make this change and characterising same as a victimisation of old men is despicable.”

    It’s Spiked. I was disappointed to hear the BBC giving their attention-seeking nonsense airtime.

  12. Bernard Bumner says

    Her own Chambers (Hardwicke) felt the need to issue a statement on this:

    We are shocked by the views expressed in Barbara Hewson’s article in Spiked (8 May 2013).

    We did not see or approve the article pre-publication and we completely dissociate ourselves from its content and any related views she may have expressed via social media or any other media outlets.

    It should be noted that Hardwicke does not offer expertise in sex crimes.

    …to add a little more context, the “age of consent” is 16, but the age at which consent can be given is actually 13 if you lie about your age. Legally, in the UK, if you have sex with a 12 year old then that is rape, with a 13 year old who consented (outside of certain pupil-teacher type relationships where you both have to be 18) then it’s only rape if you can reasonably be shown to have known they weren’t 16.

    In The Sexual Offences Act 2003:

    Sexual activity with a child:
    (1) A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if —
    (a) he intentionally touches another person (B),
    (b) the touching is sexual, and
    (c) either—
    (i) B is under 16 and A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over, or
    (ii) B is under 13.

    The age of consent is always problematic, in that it requires an act to legal at some arbitrary birthday when it was not the day before. And so it must.

    The so-called young man’s defence has long existed in English law; a reasonable précis can be found in this Appeal judgement.

    The popular name of the defence should give a clue as to who it has largely protected, historically. In the cases being considered by Operation Yewtree there was apparently no possible question of the girls’ ages,or of the powerful status of the offenders, or really it seems any suggestion that consent was freely given.

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