What should be the age of consent?
21
2.3% (3)
2.3% (3)
18
12.9% (17)
12.9% (17)
16
65.2% (86)
65.2% (86)
12
7.6% (10)
7.6% (10)
none
4.5% (6)
4.5% (6)
Marriage
3.8% (5)
3.8% (5)
Outher
3% (4)
3% (4)
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Poll: Age of consent

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Quoting isn't working for me so...
evilthecat
I don't understand how the quote disagrees with my assertion. Still I find it to be a moot point.
While a 5 year old may not be able to fully understand sex I doubt a 15, 18 or 35 year old does either. I doubt any people fully understand sex. It still doesn't mean you can't enjoy it, as long as one person has enough understanding to avoid pitfalls (pregnancy being the big one, which is not applicable in prepubescent and/or non-vaginal sex).
Two 5 year olds having sex has no risk of injury more than stander childhood playing, assuming they neither have any inherited STDs (which they should know) if pregnancy is an issue, than sex ED and easy access to contraception should make it a moot point.
The study does use different variables, but those ones were used were also used in other relevant studies, and we good enough to get in a well knows science journal.
All sex is not the same in science, but it is under law. At very least the current law needs to be refined to more properly define different types of sex. A 20 year old touching the genitals of a 5 year old sexually may not be abusive, but it is under the law.
Your second point is addressed in the study. Even if some sexual encounters as a child were harmful, not all were. Later studies (alluded to at the bottom of the article) assert that abuse is limited to nonexistent so long as the child is in a good environment. Being suggestible, if a child is told what he did was wrong, abusive and he needs help, he is likely to have anxiety and trauma. In a vacuum or with positive support there is no or few issues.
Your third point is a flaw in all studies asking about harm, how we can tell is a person is harmed by looking at them. Using your example I assert that it did hurt the girl more than the boy. The force may be objective, but the feeling is subjective. Only the person can tell you if they are happy, in pain, ect.
Self reporting is an issue, but it works both ways. The socially acceptable answer is "I had sex young and was abused, I feel bad". This may not be true, so your argument is a moot point.
To add to the above, the pedophiles that have abusive relationships are caught more than those with healthy relationships. This child has reason to turn in a abuser, but not their friend who made them feel good.
For you're forth point, the assumption is discredits may not be real in academia, but many people believe it.
An issue is that is nigh imposable to tell where society is casing the harm and how much the biology is. I don't except this to come over night, maybe drop the age of consent to 14, add more sex ED, redefine sex in a legal term. As society changes, the law can change. My assertion of removing the law is long term, not short.
For your last point why should it be different from today? Rape is still rape, and similar channels can be followed. The only thing I want to point out is that not all child/adult sex is rape. Unless you have some way of tightening down rape laws which I would love to hear.
Just a reminder, I'm fine with putting some restrictions on relationships where position of power is an issue, and it could be argued a large age gap is equivalent (I disagree) still we don't ban them, just hold them to a higher standard.

JoJo
Your right. While the study was rehashed and a few others were built off it is not all conclusive, just persuasive. One of the reasons it was not done more than once was due to its controversial nature, and the rebuttal from congress (who banned its use regardless of its merits in any legal justification with full consensus.) when congress agrees 100% on something, it's hard to stand up to them even with science. Possible? Yes. Worth the cost? Unlikely.
Rastelin
Black and white is never good. Getting throwing in jail and persecuted for having consensual sex is bad, especially if a mistake (15 year old).

I think age is meaningless. Love should be love, and only rape should be considered rape. Are you magically more mature and adult on your 18th birthday then you were a day ago?

Rather, there should be a size limit. Sexual relations can be incredibly painful and physically damaging if a body isn't "ripe", so to speak. It's like trying to stick a key in keyhole that is too small, or trying to put on an armband on an arm that is too big, or trying to put a huge dick into a small vagina.

Danyal:
Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old. We should all emulate Muhammad, the perfect Prophet who was without sin and mistakes. He is the perfect example.

Making sex with 9 year old children illegal is a severe limitation of my religious freedom!

Uhm, I think 14 is a pretty good age.

Also, saying that sex with 9 year old children is immoral or wrong is a severe insult to my Prophet! You should be punished if you dare to say that!

Danyal bashing Islam? I am so surprised I can hardly believe it.

JoJo:
I'm rather busy right now so I'm only going to add a short point in but evilthecat is right about that study the OP linked. As a university science student I know only too well that one study is never enough to prove anything, certainly not something as contested and important as child sexual abuse. That's not even including the clear methodology problems the study has. That isn't to say that the study is worthless, it's certainly interesting and as a scientist it's a shame there was a backlash against it as science should always be neutral and undogmatic, regardless of our personal feelings on the topic, but holding up just one study as "proof" of a hypothesis isn't good science.

On the original topic, I'd personally put the age of consent at 16 (like it is in my home country the UK) but have an allowance for those who are both under-age and/or are within a couple of years of each other. While no-one has ever been prosecuted for it, it's a little bit silly that two 15 year olds having consensual sex are technically raping each other under the current laws.

While it's possible that some sexual contact with minors might not be harmful, it's too risky given what the current evidence to be fair on the child and frankly there are far better ways to spend time with children than sex, regardless of where your sexual preferences lie. Anyone who truly loves children wouldn't take the risk of harming them solely to sate their own desires.

That's a lot for a short point.

Jedoro:
Let's go with 16. If that's when you'll trust the little bastards to drive unsupervised, I don't see much harm in letting 'em start bumping uglies at that age.

In my country you can't drive until 18 (but you can drink beer at 16...go figure).

Anyway i think 16 is about right. I don't trust people's capability to think before that age (well to be honest even after 16 i don't). Sex can be very damaging if done badly (Yes STD's and unwanted pregnancies exist), and the older the person the higher the odds that the person will be informed about what it gets itself into.

generals3:

Anyway i think 16 is about right. I don't trust people's capability to think before that age (well to be honest even after 16 i don't). Sex can be very damaging if done badly (Yes STD's and unwanted pregnancies exist), and the older the person the higher the odds that the person will be informed about what it gets itself into.

That last part would actually support allowing sex at a younger age if the older person was much older. A 12 year old might not know anything about birth control and STDs, but the 40 year old sleeping with them does.

evilthecat:

cowdude13:
Also you can have sex without penetrating.

Actually, legally you can't.. sexual intercourse is still specifically defined as penetration in most legal systems.

Citation proving its that way in "most" legal systems?

That's not the way it is where I live. A sexual kissing/groping session is covered by the same law and penalties as full on intercourse.

I don't know what the existing rationale behind age of consent laws are. I would have thought it's based on the notion that while there would be the occasional mature underage person forming a relationship with someone above age, the vast majority would involve some kind of manipulation, which can really screw you up at that age.

I'm a pragmatist on this topic. We need age of consent laws to at least make it less easy for people to be child predators. The correct age should vary by the culture of the community. There is no correct age that marks emotional maturity, and likewise there is no age that will perfectly protect all children without restricting the rights of some people who are ready to have sex. So communities strike a balance.

Kendarik:

generals3:

Anyway i think 16 is about right. I don't trust people's capability to think before that age (well to be honest even after 16 i don't). Sex can be very damaging if done badly (Yes STD's and unwanted pregnancies exist), and the older the person the higher the odds that the person will be informed about what it gets itself into.

That last part would actually support allowing sex at a younger age if the older person was much older. A 12 year old might not know anything about birth control and STDs, but the 40 year old sleeping with them does.

It would if the 40y old gives a shit. We cannot assume that one party is "benevolent" and that's why both parties should know what they get themselves into.

TheDarkEricDraven:

That's a lot for a short point.

Originally it was only going to be the first paragraph, then it kinda spiralled from there. This is one of those topics which is pretty emotive so I try to avoid an argument... a moment of anger on the keyboard ends up staying a life-time on the forum health bar. I agree with your suggestion that age is meaningless when it comes to love, though it's the way that love is expressed which causes contention.

cowdude13:
While a 5 year old may not be able to fully understand sex I doubt a 15, 18 or 35 year old does either.

So?

Few distinctions one can make about the world are absolute. However, they can still be made and in many cases must be made in order to have a meaningful conversation, let alone a functioning system of law.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but if your argument is that noone is capable of fully understanding the situations they consent to and thus we should abandon the principle of informed consent altogether, then I find that somewhat disturbing.

cowdude13:
The study does use different variables, but those ones were used were also used in other relevant studies, and we good enough to get in a well knows science journal.

When you conduct a statistical study based on other people's research, the quality of the data you feed into the process is what gives the study its validity.

If I am trying to work out how what proportion of the population have been sexually assaulted as children, I wouldn't split my sample in half, apply different measures of what constitutes childhood sexual assault to each of them and then recombine the samples together to produce a figure. It would no longer be clear what I was measuring.

The same principle has to apply even if you're using someone else's study instead of doing your own.

cowdude13:
Your second point is addressed in the study. Even if some sexual encounters as a child were harmful, not all were.

Hang on.. I'm a little confused now.

This section of the study doesn't deal directly with abuse victims at all. What they've done is to look at a "normal" sample of college kids and test them for a range of indicators of long term psychological problems, and then cross reference this with the prevalence numbers derived by the aforementioned dodgy measures.

The point they're trying to make is that the instance of long term psychological problems which might indicate harm is lower than the estimated prevalence of sexual abuse. My point in response is that firstly, that's an incredible vague assertion to make because the statistical methods used to derive it are so heavily abstracted.

Secondly, this only matters if you assume that any instance of CSA (with the definition of childhood ranging radically across the sample and in some cases being as high as age 18, and the definition of sex similarly being radically different and in some cases including situations in which no contact occurred) will always result in serious mental health problems or long term psychological damage which is severe enough to be psychometrically registered.

cowdude13:
Your third point is a flaw in all studies asking about harm, how we can tell is a person is harmed by looking at them. Using your example I assert that it did hurt the girl more than the boy. The force may be objective, but the feeling is subjective. Only the person can tell you if they are happy, in pain, ect.

Then we may as well abandon the human sciences altogether, because clearly there's nothing to study here. We could just ask people to tell us everything about themselves and they'd do so completely honestly and with no bias or external influence which might affect their accounts.

Consider what would happen if we worked like this. For one, we'd still believe that women and children didn't have sex drives because the entire theory of repression as outlined by Sigmund Freud would not make any sense. We'd have to accept that people who experience religious experiences or alien abduction are either lying or that these experiences actually happened and that people do have souls which could leave their bodies, or that there are actually aliens. We'd have to accept that conversion therapy to change people's sexual orientation actually works and isn't harmful. We'd need to accept that alcoholism and various other psychological conditions currently thought to be severe actually aren't a problem for people.

Don't get me wrong, I started out in the study of comparative religion where the position you've just outlined remains very, very useful and sometimes even vital. But any statement you can make based on self reporting evidence cannot be taken as truly indicative of the situation, it is only indicative of how people see the situation. That is useful to know and often the only evidence you will get, but it says practically nothing about what is really going on. People routinely make statements which don't correlate with their own behaviour or other indicators.

cowdude13:
Rape is still rape, and similar channels can be followed. The only thing I want to point out is that not all child/adult sex is rape. Unless you have some way of tightening down rape laws which I would love to hear.

Actually, all adult/child sex is rape. That's the whole point, having sex consensually requires the ability to give informed consent, it's why we don't crack open the neurology ward and let everyone have a go on the coma victims and people with severe brain damage. The differences in cognitive function between adults and children may be subtle, but at some point the line must be drawn.

Also, I can gurauntee that practically no court would ever convict someone of raping a child without the age of consent. It's hard enough to use a child witness, because they're demonstrably vulnerable to false memory syndrome (e.g. Peterson and Grant, 2001), it would be very easy to allege and virtually impossible to disprove that a child's negative memories of being sexually abused, for example, were artificial or lead by someone else, to an extent which doesn't happen with adults in quite the same way.

I haven various suggestions for tightening up rape law, but this doesn't seem the place to talk about them since they all pertain to adult rape.

I've always associated 16 with the 'coming of age' sort of time. So 16 sounds perfectly fine to me, everyone knows what is what at that age and should know the consequences to their actions.

18 is fine in America. Not for reasons of when they are ready, but more the fact that it is when you get many other rights as an adult. It makes things less complicated when you just get all the adult responceablities at once.

After pondering this issue I have created a work to convey my feelings:

Your swaggers like Boom!

My attitude is win

No bouncer in my bedroom

Baby gurl you in

Katatori-kun:
I'm a pragmatist on this topic. We need age of consent laws to at least make it less easy for people to be child predators. The correct age should vary by the culture of the community. There is no correct age that marks emotional maturity, and likewise there is no age that will perfectly protect all children without restricting the rights of some people who are ready to have sex. So communities strike a balance.

actually this is how it would need to work. in the end I hope there would be no limit, but stepping stone are needed to ensure society does not lash back.

evilthecat:
So?

Few distinctions one can make about the world are absolute. However, they can still be made and in many cases must be made in order to have a meaningful conversation, let alone a functioning system of law.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but if your argument is that noone is capable of fully understanding the situations they consent to and thus we should abandon the principle of informed consent altogether, then I find that somewhat disturbing.

to address you points-

yes I am claiming that informed consent with sex is bunk, or at least irrelevant. the main problem that can occur with sex is pregnancy. and its a moot point until puberty. after puberty people are expected to have enough sex ed to avoid it unless its wanted.

you don't need to fully understand something- or understand it at all- to enjoy it. so long as one party takes measures to stop pregnancy/STDs if its an issue there is no risk.

the purpose of the study was to debunk the idea that all child/adult sexual encounters were harmful. the definition in legal terms is vague, and thus is the definition is vague. fondling a 12 year old and sex with a 16 year old are all the same in the eyes of the law.

however even if the study is mostly wrong(with I will accept for the sake of argument at this time, I do poorly at statistical analysis and specifics in science)it still does not address the heard of the problem, society.

Sex with a small age gap is not an issue( assuming simple knowledge in regards to pregnancy)and a large age gap is also fin as long as one party is mature enough, witch is the age of consent.

I think most current ages of consent(16-18) is too high and should be slowly lowered down to zero with additions of early and more informative sex ED.

I assert that is society supports it people could have sex at any age with any one of any outer age(or sexual contact where size is an issue).

evilthecat:
then we may as well abandon the human sciences altogether, because clearly there's nothing to study here. We could just ask people to tell us everything about themselves and they'd do so completely honestly and with no bias or external influence which might affect their accounts.

Consider what would happen if we worked like this. For one, we'd still believe that women and children didn't have sex drives because the entire theory of repression as outlined by Sigmund Freud would not make any sense. We'd have to accept that people who experience religious experiences or alien abduction are either lying or that these experiences actually happened and that people do have souls which could leave their bodies, or that there are actually aliens. We'd have to accept that conversion therapy to change people's sexual orientation actually works and isn't harmful. We'd need to accept that alcoholism and various other psychological conditions currently thought to be severe actually aren't a problem for people.

Don't get me wrong, I started out in the study of comparative religion where the position you've just outlined remains very, very useful and sometimes even vital. But any statement you can make based on self reporting evidence cannot be taken as truly indicative of the situation, it is only indicative of how people see the situation. That is useful to know and often the only evidence you will get, but it says practically nothing about what is really going on. People routinely make statements which don't correlate with their own behaviour or other indicators.

reality =/= emotions. a cut is still a cut, a bruise is still a bruise, but emotional trauma and emotions can only be define by asking the person. its simply impossible to directly measure there happiness, although we can make a good guess.

human science is not thrown out the window because like any sociologist or psychologist will tell you they measure tendency not absolutes. getting beat may generally make people feel bad, but a slim few will think nothing of it, or even like it.

how a person sees themselves is what matters if we are measuring their happiness. if a person told you they were happy who are you to disagree.

evilthecat:

Actually, all adult/child sex is rape. That's the whole point, having sex consensually requires the ability to give informed consent, it's why we don't crack open the neurology ward and let everyone have a go on the coma victims and people with severe brain damage. The differences in cognitive function between adults and children may be subtle, but at some point the line must be drawn.

informed consent as I said before is not needed, simply consent. they may regret their choice later, but it will be in no way traumatizing. getting drunk at a party and having sex my not be informed consent, but its not rape, and the trauma of rape will not apply.

we ban sex in coma victims out of respect to there memory's, similar to the ban on necrophilia. still assuming the person was in a true coma and not just unable to react i would see no problem with it so long as proper care was taken.

evilthecat:
Also, I can gurauntee that practically no court would ever convict someone of raping a child without the age of consent. It's hard enough to use a child witness, because they're demonstrably vulnerable to false memory syndrome (e.g. Peterson and Grant, 2001), it would be very easy to allege and virtually impossible to disprove that a child's negative memories of being sexually abused, for example, were artificial or lead by someone else, to an extent which doesn't happen with adults in quite the same way.

how is this different from adult rape court? adults are also susceptible to false memory, and witnesses are moving out of the court room in favor of hard evidence due to their failability.

children have little reason to convict a person they had consensual sex with( most due to prodding from angry parents.) A court could easily convict rapists, and keep normal people from being touched.

TheDarkEricDraven:

Rather, there should be a size limit. Sexual relations can be incredibly painful and physically damaging if a body isn't "ripe", so to speak. It's like trying to stick a key in keyhole that is too small, or trying to put on an armband on an arm that is too big, or trying to put a huge dick into a small vagina.

I enjoy how your simile became not one. Like a ball of string unraveling. Or a car hitting a wall. Or inserting the actual example as the third simile. Funny.

In other news, this topic got me poking around the references you guys gave, and now I'm more confused than before.

What is the age of consent in Washington State?

drisky:
18 is fine in America. Not for reasons of when they are ready, but more the fact that it is when you get many other rights as an adult. It makes things less complicated when you just get all the adult responceablities at once.

except for driving. and drinking alcohol. and renting a car. That's to say nothing of the adult responsibilities which don't have a specific age attached to them, like holding down a full time job owning a home, etc.

in my experience, having all those things happen at once makes them a lot more complicated and the adjustment to adult life that much more stressful.

LilithSlave:
Actually, the age of consent varies from country to country, so allow me to clarify. I think the age of consent should be 20. Nobody needs to be married or have sex before then.

I may be wrong here, but I don't think 18 and 19 year olds are considered minors.

As for me, I think it should be 16. At that point you can be expect to have the mental capacity to make that kind of decision.

cowdude13:

Katatori-kun:
I'm a pragmatist on this topic. We need age of consent laws to at least make it less easy for people to be child predators. The correct age should vary by the culture of the community. There is no correct age that marks emotional maturity, and likewise there is no age that will perfectly protect all children without restricting the rights of some people who are ready to have sex. So communities strike a balance.

actually this is how it would need to work. in the end I hope there would be no limit, but stepping stone are needed to ensure society does not lash back.

You hay have misunderstood me. What I said, I consider to apply to the system we have now. In other words, I was speaking in support of the status quo.

Yes, that means a couple where one member is 16 and the other is 18 might move from England, where their having sex would be perfectly legal, to several states in the US, where the 16 year old would suddenly become a minor and the that would make the 18 year old a child predator.

It's an imperfect world. Deal with it.

Your life is not going to end if you have to wait a couple years to legally have sex with your partner. And for people who advocate that some young people are emotionally mature enough to consent to sex, I totally agree. A convenient marker of if the minor partner is truly mature enough to consent to a sexual relationship is if anyone else finds out about it. If they can't handle your relationship discreetly, they weren't ready and you're probably going to at least go to court. Yeah, the penalties if you guess wrong about your partner's sexual maturity are harsh. You rolls the dice, you takes your chances.

Age of consent is a fairly arbitrary line in the sand. Worse still, it's not one person gripping the stick but at least two - trying to drag the line to the lower bound you have realists, liberals and (arguably) child predators, and pulling toward the upper bound are the idealists, moralists, and the superstition/paranormal crowd. An uneasy mix of bedfellows whichever way you look at it.

Personally, I think 16 is about the right balance - many 16 year olds won't choose to have wild unprotected group sex the second the clock strikes twelve on their sixteenth natal day, but to stick our heads in the sand and assume that NOBODY under 18 is interested in, or capable of, having sex is pure malarkey.

Here in Iceland its 15, but I think it should be 16 instead.

EDIT: Wait, how does it come I can post even though I am still technically suspended?

cobra_ky:

drisky:
18 is fine in America. Not for reasons of when they are ready, but more the fact that it is when you get many other rights as an adult. It makes things less complicated when you just get all the adult responceablities at once.

except for driving. and drinking alcohol. and renting a car. That's to say nothing of the adult responsibilities which don't have a specific age attached to them, like holding down a full time job owning a home, etc.

in my experience, having all those things happen at once makes them a lot more complicated and the adjustment to adult life that much more stressful.

First of all I fell alcohol should be brought down to 18. For one your old enough to be arrested and get drafted, they should be trusted with the responsibility of alcohol. Also there is the college setting, alcohol is easy to obtain for those under 18, they have it wether it is legal or not and no one ever gets arrested for having it. I however have gotten in trouble for having minors in my dorm and not personally confiscating it or reporting them. Its all a big mess and would be easier if people who live under different laws weren't co-habitating.

Driving can stay where it is. I personally know waiting longer makes it very hard to learn do to the time where you are moving out. You need to have your parents teach you that while you still live with them. I don't know the logic behind car rental age, so I won't discuss it.

I still personally feel turning 18 isn't that stressful, its mostly just things you can do and not have to do and needing to be responsible for your own actions. Most of that won't affect you day one. You don't have to go out and buy a lotto ticket, a pack of cigarettes, order something from an infomercial, have sex with someone and get arrested all on day one just because you can.

Worst case scenario outside of your control, your parents kick out day one, hopefully that isn't the case most times.

Nudu:

LilithSlave:
Actually, the age of consent varies from country to country, so allow me to clarify. I think the age of consent should be 20. Nobody needs to be married or have sex before then.

I may be wrong here, but I don't think 18 and 19 year olds are considered minors.

As for me, I think it should be 16. At that point you can be expect to have the mental capacity to make that kind of decision.

They aren't minors, but what does that matter? In a number of countries there are restrictions on those of legal age for things like smoking, drinking, gambling, etc.

Kendarik:
A sexual kissing/groping session is covered by the same law and penalties as full on intercourse.

So copping a feel is rape in your country and carries an 8 year (average) prison term?

I said 'sexual intercourse', not 'sexual activity'. Some offences do not draw distinction, but others most certainly do. 'Sexual intercourse' itself is heavily defined by penetration, and although some countries (like the US) make specific allowances for cunnilingus that's quite a recent thing.

Putting the tip of your penis in someone's mouth even to the smallest degree is sexual intercourse, and if it is not-consensual can be charged as rape, with a maximum penalty (under British law) of life imprisonment.

Having someone lick your penis is not sexual intercourse, and if not consensual will be charged (again, under British law) as 'causing sexual activity without consent', with a maximum penalty of 10 years.

The presence or absence of penetration is extremely important in legal terms. There are other forms of sexual activity which can occur without penetration, but sexual intercourse is a specific thing.

It's not great, I think the US definition is probably better to be honest although it's hugely arbitrary. Still, this is law, sometimes an arbitrary law does the job better than a principled one.

cowdude13:
you don't need to fully understand something- or understand it at all- to enjoy it. so long as one party takes measures to stop pregnancy/STDs if its an issue there is no risk.

Enjoyment, or the absence of harm, is not consent.

Think very hard about the implications of equating these concepts for a moment, because there are many. For one, it puts you right on the verge of suggesting that if the victim of rape has an orgasm during the experience then they couldn't have been raped.

cowdude13:
The purpose of the study was to debunk the idea that all child/adult sexual encounters were harmful.

I know, and that's one of the reasons I don't buy it because I don't think anyone has said that. It's certainly not the reason we have an age of consent.

cowdude13:
reality =/= emotions. a cut is still a cut, a bruise is still a bruise, but emotional trauma and emotions can only be define by asking the person. its simply impossible to directly measure there happiness, although we can make a good guess.

You're half-right.

Emotional trauma and emotions cannot be accurately measured at all. You cannot just ask someone how they're feeling and take everything they say at face value, there are demonstrable cases where people do not report their true feelings, and these cases can be socially influenced.

Heck, in some areas (such as sexuality research, which I have tried to do with little success) this is an enormous problem, because you simply cannot trust people to report accurately on their feelings. This isn't to say it's not useful data to get, but it's at best indicative and works much better when combined with some kind of more quantifiable measurement.

This study actually uses loads of different psychometrics (they even list them all on pages 28 and 29) to try and measure harm. Actually, if they'd tightened the whole study up, produced their own prevalence data through clear and transparent means, used self-reporting studies from the same population as case studies and dropped the rather grandiose and obviously motivated conclusion it would be quite informative.

But this falls into something I wanted to say in response to JoJo's post.. so later..

cowdude13:
informed consent as I said before is not needed, simply consent. they may regret their choice later, but it will be in no way traumatizing. getting drunk at a party and having sex my not be informed consent, but its not rape, and the trauma of rape will not apply.

..except when it is, which as mentioned is not defined by whether it's traumatic or not. An unconscious person will not find rape traumatic at the time either, yet it's still rape to have sex with an unconscious person without their consent.

Rape in this case is defined by whether the victim has the capacity to consent. Some legal systems view anyone who has consumed alcohol to lack the capacity to consent, others state that a person can be drunk and still have the capacity to consent. However, almost all acknowledge that there is the potential for someone to be conscious and yet incapable of consent.

cowdude13:
we ban sex in coma victims out of respect to there memory's, similar to the ban on necrophilia. still assuming the person was in a true coma and not just unable to react i would see no problem with it so long as proper care was taken.

You know coma isn't necessarily permanent right? It's just a long period of unconsciousness.

It's nothing to do with respect for a person's memory, we don't fuck them because they lack the capacity to consent. Heck, a person who has fallen asleep technically lacks the capacity to consent, and if you have sex with them and they later realize and don't like it, they can take you to court.

Your definition of rape is fundamentally wrong. You talk about how anyone can have sex with proper sex education, yet you're being a perfect example of the failure of sex education. If you can't be trusted to know not to have sex with an unconscious person, how is anyone meant to trust you to have consensual sex with a child?

Very few people who perform sexual activity with children, even those are violent and aggressive, believe that they harm their victims. Hence, harm, much less the perception of harm, doesn't matter. Consent matters, and our society has decided for fairly good reasons that a person under a particular age, which is arbitrarily defined but remarkably flexible in practice, lacks the capacity to consent, just as we have defined that person with severe mental impairment, whether permanent or temporary, also lacks the capacity to consent.

It is a hard judgement, but I see no practical way for it not to be necessary without abandoning the entire principle of consent.

cowdude13:
how is this different from adult rape court? adults are also susceptible to false memory, and witnesses are moving out of the court room in favor of hard evidence due to their failability.

Not nearly to the same extent, and I posted the name of study showing as much.

cowdude13:
A court could easily convict rapists, and keep normal people from being touched.

How?

As mentioned, it can't do that with adults.

JoJo:
That isn't to say that the study is worthless, it's certainly interesting and as a scientist it's a shame there was a backlash against it as science should always be neutral and undogmatic, regardless of our personal feelings on the topic, but holding up just one study as "proof" of a hypothesis isn't good science.

I can see why there's a backlash, and it has to do with the misuse of science. That's quite rare in the physical sciences I think, but in the social sciences political misappropriation is a constant risk.

It's very easy to make a social sciences study say just about anything. It won't necessarily be very rigorous, but you can probably make it seem convincing enough to be published quite easily. Thus, if you're involved in advocating a certain cause for example, it's very easy to produce a study with a friendly conclusion, get it published and then report it to your members or the media as a 'discovery' in order to advance a political cause. If it's controversial, even better, because then you can claim that the scientific "establishment" is prejudiced against your cause and actually, people love that kind of narrative, a lot of people will totally buy it.

Motivated research is a real problem. The backlash against it might seem harsh, but it's often just justifiable scepticism and usually quite well supported with extensive and specific criticism of the study in question (because as mentioned, politically motivated studies often aren't very good).

Otherwise, I really agree with you.

evilthecat:

Kendarik:
A sexual kissing/groping session is covered by the same law and penalties as full on intercourse.

So copping a feel is rape in your country and carries an 8 year (average) prison term?

There is no crime called "rape" in my country. There is only sexual assault, and yes, any form of sexual assault can potentially carry the same sentence.

I said 'sexual intercourse', not 'sexual activity'. Some offences do not draw distinction, but others most certainly do. 'Sexual intercourse' itself is heavily defined by penetration, and although some countries (like the US) make specific allowances for cunnilingus that's quite a recent thing.

Since before I was born in my country no such distinction has existed. The only law that uses any form of penetration is an old um...1960s I think... law on the age of consent. For anal sex the age of consent is 18, and that act is defined as any body fluids or parts of one person's body touching or penetrating the anus of the other for sexual purposes. So even then, touching/kissing that part would count just the same.

I'm happy I live in a country that (generally) isn't still living in the 1800s understanding of sex.

I'm good with it being the age one is considered an independent adult. Once you have the legal means to insure your own well being, you can do as you please. Until then, the potential consequences of your actions will directly place additional burdens on those legally responsible for your guardianship. So please, wait till your choices only fuck up your life.

In regard to any argument involving maturity... I'm a big proponent of the position that if you can't wait for your societies legal requirements for (whatever), then you aren't mature enough. Mature people are patient, and either abide by law or work to change it.

Kendarik:
I'm happy I live in a country that (generally) isn't still living in the 1800s understanding of sex.

I'm going to take a guess and say Canada, which I guess I forgot about. Oh well.

To be honest, I'm kind of happy I live in a country which considers a crime which can cause enormous physical trauma up to and including permanent injury or death as distinct from one which is potentially upsetting and terrifying but not physically dangerous. I'm happy I live in a country which acknowledges the difference between unwanted touching and sexual violation and accepts that the latter is subject to issues around gender and sexual orientation, rather than just being a decontextualized sequence of acts within a ratings scale. I'm happy that I live in a country which no longer allows the Morgan defence (it's not sexual assault unless the attacker believes it is).

I'm happy that we can statistically monitor the severity of sexual assaults as well as the overall number. I'm happy that our system allows for different court procedures to be applied in cases depending on their severity. I'm happy that we can code important information like conviction rate variances across different types of assault. I'm happy that judges and legal scholars can give specific information to juries and lawyers regarding not simply the legal definition of various offences but also different court proceedings, to ensure that people are treated consistently relative to their position across the criminal justice system. I'm happy that police sensitivity training can specifically target issues which arise in different types of assault, and deal head on with issues of gender and sexuality in these offences, for example. Finally I'm happy that campaigners like me have a statistical platform to push for reform which might ultimately result in fairer treatment for people.

Most of all, I'm happy to live in a country where people aren't "happy" with a legal system that doesn't work. I'm happy that we can work towards genuine reform, rather than just being terribly proud of ourselves because even if you've got more chance of being hit by a car than bringing your rapist to justice, at least your courtroom humiliation will take place in highly abstracted gender neutral language, and that's much better.

O brave new world that has such people in it!

Katatori-kun:

It's an imperfect world. Deal with it.

Your life is not going to end if you have to wait a couple years to legally have sex with your partner. And for people who advocate that some young people are emotionally mature enough to consent to sex, I totally agree. A convenient marker of if the minor partner is truly mature enough to consent to a sexual relationship is if anyone else finds out about it. If they can't handle your relationship discreetly, they weren't ready and you're probably going to at least go to court. Yeah, the penalties if you guess wrong about your partner's sexual maturity are harsh. You rolls the dice, you takes your chances.

yes, the world is imperfect. but when ever possible we should strive to make it more perfect, even if its a pipe dream. arguing that you can just wait a few years is not valid. using the same argument you could say stealing 100$ is fine because you can make it back. or that the driving age should be 50. most people will still get the chance to drive right?

its a matter of freedom, and so long as no one is being harmed, we should aim to maximize it, as more freedom generally means more happiness.

evilthecat:

Enjoyment, or the absence of harm, is not consent.

Think very hard about the implications of equating these concepts for a moment, because there are many. For one, it puts you right on the verge of suggesting that if the victim of rape has an orgasm during the experience then they couldn't have been raped.

informed consent=/= to consent. you can agree and enjoy something without understanding all of the consequences. rape is still bad because while there may be physical pleasure, the trauma is far greater. if rape did not hurt anyone, then it would not be illegal.

the only way age of consent should be applied is if sex or sexual contact is more harmful then the benefits. assuming no one is forced into sex this is not the case. even if society makes it harmful, society can be changed. I don't want any abolition of age of consent to happen overnight, but over a period of time so society can ease into it, and any harms caused by it would be negligible or nonexistent.

as you alluded to the law is very vague, which is an issue. I think the first step that anyone can agree with would be improving the laws and defining different sexual relations.
Fondling =/= intercourse.

evilthecat:
I know, and that's one of the reasons I don't buy it because I don't think anyone has said that. It's certainly not the reason we have an age of consent.

yes, many people have said that or think it. what is the reason for age on consent laws if its not to save children from an inherently harmful activity? you could apply the same thing as children playing with matches, hunting, or even swimming. so long as there is proper education, or even parental supervision, it is a great way for people to learn and have fun.

evilthecat:
...except when it is, which as mentioned is not defined by whether it's traumatic or not. An unconscious person will not find rape traumatic at the time either, yet it's still rape to have sex with an unconscious person without their consent.

Rape in this case is defined by whether the victim has the capacity to consent. Some legal systems view anyone who has consumed alcohol to lack the capacity to consent, others state that a person can be drunk and still have the capacity to consent. However, almost all acknowledge that there is the potential for someone to be conscious and yet incapable of consent.

my argument is that the legal definition of rape is wrong. I define rape as sex without consent. I define consent as agreeing to do something. if a person is conscious they are capable of consent. even if we twist the definition of consent to require some knowledge, we still should not make it illegal. what is the point of consent if there is no harm? that not how it works in reality, of course because my definition is closer in tune to reality.

evilthecat:
How?

As mentioned, it can't do that with adults.

should we ban normal sex because it would be hard to convict rapists? of course not. rapists are convicted all the time. I doubt(could you cite your souses?)that most rapists get away with what they do. even if they do, stringent sex laws is not the answer, but education about them so people turn them in. rape is bad, but the raped has a major incentive to turn the guilty in.

teaching people that your not at fault for being raped is the solution, not banning or regulating sex.

to convict someone you do not need witnesses, and if your did it would become a he said she said and no one would be convicted. forensic evidence is used all the time, and improving. convicting a child rapist should be just as easy if not more due to a favorable jury.

even if children as more suspenseful to false memory's it can work both ways. if a child is not put through trauma then it a moot point and no harm has been done. if he is, its rape. being susceptible to false memory's is not a reason to throw out testimony,as all people can be affected by it.

convicting a child rapist is just as easy, if not easier than convicting a adult rapist.

In Germany it's between 14 and 18, depending on circumstances.

I think having a time frame is better than simply defining a certain age of consent without further consideration.

Instead of imposing an arbitrary age, how about this?
Half your age plus seven years marks the lowest point of the "people you can fuck" pool.
(Your age minus seven) times two marks the highest point.

So...if you were ten...
5+7 = 12
3x2 = 6
12 as the lowest point, 6 as the highest point at 10.
If you were 14...
7+7 = 14
7x2 = 14
14 as the lowest and highest point at 14.

Maybe that equation once one is above 14?

cowdude13:

Katatori-kun:

It's an imperfect world. Deal with it.

Your life is not going to end if you have to wait a couple years to legally have sex with your partner. And for people who advocate that some young people are emotionally mature enough to consent to sex, I totally agree. A convenient marker of if the minor partner is truly mature enough to consent to a sexual relationship is if anyone else finds out about it. If they can't handle your relationship discreetly, they weren't ready and you're probably going to at least go to court. Yeah, the penalties if you guess wrong about your partner's sexual maturity are harsh. You rolls the dice, you takes your chances.

yes, the world is imperfect. but when ever possible we should strive to make it more perfect, even if its a pipe dream. arguing that you can just wait a few years is not valid. using the same argument you could say stealing 100$ is fine because you can make it back.

Let's try not to be completely absurd in our analogies, shall we? Stealing $100 is a crime. Waiting a year to have sex with an underage partner is not a crime. It is the opposite of a crime. Stealing $100 hurts others. Waiting to have sex so you aren't taking advantage of a minor does not.

or that the driving age should be 50. most people will still get the chance to drive right?

Kindly don't waste my time with ridiculous arguments.

its a matter of freedom, and so long as no one is being harmed, we should aim to maximize it, as more freedom generally means more happiness.

As I said, I am interested in the real world. We know for a fact that young people are not good judges of when they should have sex. We know for a fact that there are adults who prey upon young people's naivety. We know for a fact that children who have been subject to sexual abuse often go on to have problems later in life that are less common in children who have not been abused.

So it's pretty obvious that age of consent laws are necessary. The only question is which age precisely is the best age to set them at. Rather than trying to force a "one size fits all" solution on the entire world, I say let individual countries decide based on their culture.

Now if you don't agree with that, that's fine. But kindly defend your opinion with something a little more robust than vague, unproven platitudes about FREEDOM.

Shawn MacDonald:
If there is grass on the field, play ball.

I was just about to say 'I second this!'... then I realised that I had a fully mature woman's body at 11 years old.
Pretty sure I wasn't ready at that age. Yes, I was horny as heck but I was also one hundred per cent in love with a cartoon character until I was 14, that kind of behaviour suggests that someone isn't ready for real life intimate contact yet.

EDIT: 14, though, I got my first proper (real life) crush and I think I was hella ready then. Finally lost it at 16, though.

Katatori-kun:
As I said, I am interested in the real world. We know for a fact that young people are not good judges of when they should have sex. We know for a fact that there are adults who prey upon young people's naivety. We know for a fact that children who have been subject to sexual abuse often go on to have problems later in life that are less common in children who have not been abused.

So it's pretty obvious that age of consent laws are necessary. The only question is which age precisely is the best age to set them at. Rather than trying to force a "one size fits all" solution on the entire world, I say let individual countries decide based on their culture.

Now if you don't agree with that, that's fine. But kindly defend your opinion with something a little more robust than vague, unproven platitudes about FREEDOM.

I agree about the culture part. In fact any problems that may exist due to underage sex is controlled by culture. A highly fundamentalism culture may make sex before marriage as bad socially as pedophilia today. Still objectively it's not wrong, and if society is altered to be more forgiving and open people will be able to do as they please with their life.
I argue that we need to not just abolish the law, but altar society. Laws like age of consent should follow society, as you said, but as society changes so should the laws. Kids are having sex earlier and earlier, and the law does not reflect that, at least in my country.

As I have said numerous times don't expect, or want, this to happen overnight, but it should be the ultimate goal.

The issue is that there is an arbitrary line drawn, and it is not a good reflection of society or reality. Being naive about sex is a problem all people have, and as long as they are educated enough to use safe sex after puberty, it is not a problem. People will always prey on the naive, but so long as there is no harm we shouldn't be upset by it. Tricking a child into running up the stairs for no reason is trickery, and maybe a rude thing to do, but in the end minor and occurring every day by kids and adults to their peers. Sex is no more dangerous than swimming or hunting, but parents regularly trick their kids into jumping into the water.
Getting tricked/convicted something is good is not the same as forcing a person to do something. Convicting someone to have sex with you is not rape even if you lie about it.
Waiting until the laws says it's ok or altering it is a good sign of maturity, but not universal. Were the people who ran the Underground Railroad immature? Where the people who drank during prohibition immature? Where draft dodger immature? Disobeying the law is a common way to protest it, or lesson any preserved harm it causes.

cowdude13:
informed consent=/= to consent.

Yes it does.

As mentioned, consent is defined as a "having the capacity to consent", one criteria of someone having the capacity to consent is having a basic level of awareness as to your actions.

A person who is manipulated or coerced into consenting has not consented. A person who has temporarily or permanently been rendered incapable of understanding their actions to the degree required cannot consent.

This doesn't mean "complete awareness", don't try to turn the concept into a straw man. You don't have to know that in 5 years time someone will contract HIV and pass it on to you in order to consent to them, but on the other hand if they knowingly have HIV and don't tell you, even if you were not infected with HIV by having sex with them, you could still claim to have been raped in most countries.

Information and awareness are a part of the legal definition of consent.

cowdude13:
the only way age of consent should be applied is if sex or sexual contact is more harmful then the benefits.

Measured precisely how?

It doesn't matter. There is no magical machine which measures psychological or emotional harm, and in fact in most countries people can even consent to physical harm to a certain degree (not in mine, but we're the exception and it annoys me). Harm and consent are entirely separate concepts, they do not overlap at all.

Consent matters, harm does not.

cowdude13:
as you alluded to the law is very vague, which is an issue. I think the first step that anyone can agree with would be improving the laws and defining different sexual relations.
Fondling =/= intercourse.

I don't know where you live, but in the UK that's already the case. As far as I'm aware (and see my reply to Kendarik) it's only Canada which lumps all sexual activity together into a single definition.

Actually, I imagine the reason they did so to be fairly close to your heart, to remove "arbitrary lines" from the law.

cowdude13:
what is the reason for age on consent laws if its not to save children from an inherently harmful activity?

* To protect children from activities which may be a risk of harm to them (note, not "inherently" harmful) because of their demonstrable vulnerability to manipulation and coercion.

* To enforce a basic principle that people should have conscious control and self-awareness over what is done to their bodies to a higher standard than a child is presumed capable of.

Look, you've spent this entire debate arguing that it's not "inherently" harmful, just like the article you linked to, but it doesn't matter. That's not why the age of consent exists at all. Harm just doesn't come into it.

The principle is that children, and even some adolescents, can be vulnerable to leading, to manipulation or to coercion by adults and this impacts on their ability to make a truly autonomous choice about what is done to their bodies. It's not even necessarily an issue of cognitive development, although for young children it is, but of the expected differences between children and adults in terms of suggestibility, experience and independence.

Make the case that children as a group are equally capable of making an informed and independent decision and are not at any more risk of manipulation or coercion compared to an equivalent group of adults, and you'll have a point. However, I don't think it's possible to make that case.

cowdude13:
I doubt(could you cite your souses?)that most rapists get away with what they do.

Okay, the hardest thing to measure is the reporting rate. That's the number of people who are raped and then don't report it. The problem is that a lot of people who don't report to police also won't report in other studies, so non-estimated reporting rates will always seem artificially high.

With this in mind, the British Crime Survey 2002 found that only about 18% of the people who reported being raped had ever reported the incident(s) to the police, bear in mind this is people not individual incidents. Estimating reporting rates for individual crimes are generally lower, around 5 to 10 percent, but let's use 18% as a number.

Of the crimes that were reported to the police in 2002, only about 5% resulted in a conviction for rape. That's a combination of cases never reaching court, attrition during the court process and cases being found not guilty, although it includes convictions due to confession or guilty pleas which, and bear in mind that I'm tired and don't feel like looking up more statistics, but I've definitely heard this from people who I trust to know about it, actually make up the majority of that 5%.

So, if we rely on this number, then we end up with the figure that every given person that is raped has a just under 1% chance of securing a conviction for rape.

Bear in mind that's actually quite a high figure. Based on estimated data, it's easy to go as low as .25 of a percent.

There's untold story here which the government thinks we should be focusing on, because according to Baroness Stern, who was commissioned in 2010 to look into the falling conviction rate, 14% of those reported crimes will result in conviction for an offence of any kind. This would mean about 3% of rapist are being convicted of something.

However, that includes convictions for petty crimes which do not carry a custodial sentence. There are no UK figures for this, but according to RAINN in the US, which gets its data from the NCPA paper 'Crime and Punishment in America' from 1999, 70% of those sentences will be custodial - and this means anything from spending a night in a jail cell to life imprisonment.

So basically, if we assume the UK figure is similar, then only about 1.7% of people who commit rape will spend even a single night in custody. Regardless of how you measure it, almost all rapists get off with what they do.

There are a few things I haven't factored in here. Someone is inevitably going to mention false reporting (generally, about 8% of rape allegations are marked as 'false' by police), but this doesn't actually mean as much as it seems. There's a lot of confusion about what 'false reporting' means in rape, it does not mean cases where people are found to have have made up an allegation or lied, and it certainly doesn't mean no crime has occured.

Anyway, if anyone has a huge problem I'll break down what false reporting is, until then I'm tired and this is taking long enough so yeah.

cowdude13:
Rape is bad, but the raped has a major incentive to turn the guilty in.

Why? So they can be publicly discredited in court in front of the person who raped them? So they can spend 6 months reliving a traumatic experience only to see the person responsible sent back into the community where they live?

This isn't just down to lack of reporting. Attrition, and the performance and sensitivity of the police and legal system, also plays a massive and arguably much more important role.

cowdude13:
forensic evidence is used all the time, and improving. convicting a child rapist should be just as easy if not more due to a favorable jury.

Forensic evidence can't prove that sex was not consensual. Any injury or physical caused by rape can theoretically be caused by rough but consensual sex.

Seriously, forensic evidence means nothing because it doesn't shut down the easiest line of defence for anyone prosecuted for rape. A defence lawyer in a rape case won't argue that their client never had sex with the victim, not unless the case is extremely old and no forensic evidence could possibly be available, they will simply argue that the victim consented, and that's a very, very difficult story to disprove.

I'm not going to get into rape law reform, needless to say there are ways to deal with this.. most of them involve making better information available to legal professionals and juries, and better training about how to deal specifically with sexual assault cases at the investigative level.

cowdude13:
Being susceptible to false memory's is not a reason to throw out testimony,as all people can be affected by it.

Yes, but children can be affected by it more and to a greater extent.

When we talk about false memory syndrome in emotionally "healthy" adults, we mean things like crime victims remembering that their attacker was black when multiple witnesses can confirm that they were white (yes, there's at least one study on that). People in extreme stress or arousal often don't take in details of the situation and can supplant minor details with false memories.

These are generally relatively minor details which the person just didn't have a chance to take in. Outside of specific situations like hypnosis or recovered memory therapy, it's very rare for adults to actually fabricate new false memories, or to radically alter their perception of events due to outside stimulus. This means that, for legal purposes, their general account of events can usually be considered reliable so long as they are not lying.

For children, it's very different. The memories of children are incredibly plastic, they don't just misremember details due to stress, their entire perception of a situation can be lead by other things they hear. They can even generate new memories from stories, things they've heard or dreams and become convinced that these things really happened.

This has huge implications for children's testimony, because fundamentally the fact that a child believes something happened or that it happened in a certain way doesn't mean that it did.

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