UK: Revised UK child sexual 'consent' rules provoke backlash
There was some discussion here the other week regarding the updated letter:
Including paragraph 14 - the issue appearing (?) to be the difference between the 'age of majority' (often 18, but sometimes older) (ie when a person stops being a 'minor') and the 'age of consent' (often 16, but can vary).
But actually it may be more aligned with the latest draft guidelines from the UK's Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority as featured on page 21 of today's Guardian newspaper (Friday, September 15, 2017) - a larger and more fuller article is available from their website.
Revised UK child sexual 'consent' rules provoke backlash
Guardian, September 14, 2017
Children as young as 12 could be refused compensation under guidelines criticised as ‘victim blaming’.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) began a review of its guidelines earlier this year when it emerged that almost 700 child victims had been denied payments, even in cases where the attacker had been jailed.
CICA’s revised guidance states that victims of child sexual abuse can still be disqualified from the scheme on the basis that “consent ‘in fact’ is different from consent ‘in law’.”
The draft revised guidelines state: “The legal age of consent is 16. It is a criminal offence for a person to engage in sexual activity with someone under 13 regardless of the circumstances, and to engage in sexual activity with someone aged 13 to 16 unless certain narrow defences apply. Normally, where such a criminal offence has been committed, the child will be the victim of a crime of violence and therefore eligible for compensation under Annex B.
“However, consent ‘in fact’ is different from consent ‘in law’. The scheme recognises that there may be situations where a person aged under 16 has ‘in fact’ consented to sexual activity. Where the sexual activity is truly of the applicant’s free will no crime of violence will have occurred.”
It continues: “Such cases will be rare where an adult engages in sexual conduct with a child. There can only be consent ‘in fact’ where you are satisfied that consent was freely and voluntarily given. Even if it appears that the minor expressed consent to the acts in question, the surrounding circumstances may indicate that the situation was abusive and the consent was not true consent.”
The guidance also states that children under 12 could also be found to have consented to sexual activity.
It says: “Where the child was 12 or under when the incident happened, we will presume that the child did not consent in fact unless the evidence to the contrary is very clear. For example, where the incident involves children aged 12 or under who, on the evidence, both appear to have agreed to engage in sexual experimentation with each other, it is unlikely that a crime of violence will have occurred.”
A CICA spokesperson said: “Child sexual abuse is abhorrent. Our guidelines are designed to make sure that controlling and abusive behaviour is taken into account when handling compensation applications. We want to be sure that we never get these decisions wrong. That’s why we are reviewing our staff guidance to make sure that we identify every instance where grooming could be a factor. We are actively engaging victim support groups and relevant charities to make sure the revised guidance is as robust as it possibly can be.”
It really highlights how complex the situation of child sexual abuse is and how even government agencies have to take certain aspects into account before they make a decision. In some jurisdictions, if the person who is the perpetrator exerts authority over the victim the penalties can be more severe, some jurisdictions it doesn't matter. Some jurisdictions give a couple of years of leeway for those approaching the age of consent so like if the age of consent is 16, so a 16-year-old might be able to have sex with a 13-year-old and it not is prosecuted or an 18 and a 16-year-olds. That is of course unless the parents pressure the prosecutors to file charges. So it is not always this cut and dry thing that so many people think it is. there is a lot of circumstances that must come into play.