A number of recent cases have once again shown the idiocy of consent laws. In these cases, adults have been sent off to prison for consensual relationships with young girls who actively participated in — even initiated — activities they found enjoyable with a person of their own choice. In fact, the active role of the girls in question have even been acknowledged by the judges in these cases. So why do we continue to criminalise such activity when it is increasingly evident that children are indeed able to determine if they wish to be initimate with another person?
In the first case, a young Welsh girl gave her minders the slip and went out on the town. During that time, she encountered a twenty year old painter and made it quite evident that she wanted to have sex with him. He subsequently took her to his home and at some point asked her how old she was. Her response? “Does it matter?” Following this, the pair had intercourse twice. She was found by authorities searching for her the next day. Whilst she told them what she had been up to the previous night, she subsequently refused to cooperate with their investigation into the event. By all accounts, the young girl looks older than she is. In fact, her lover was apparently shocked when he was told that she was only ten years old.
Fortunately for Liam Edgecombe, both the prosecutor and the judge accepted that he believed that the girl was sixteen years old (the age of consent in Wales). In fact, both of these officials made telling statements at the trial. The prosecutor said that there was no doubt that the girl had consented to sex, adding that it was only because of her age that the activity was considered rape. The judge was more direct: “She was looking for a man and got what she wanted.”
Of course, all of these statements about the girl’s obvious desire to have sex were qualified by other statements by the main characters in this farce that indicated their belief that she needed to be protected from herself. Edgecombe’s barrister, Janet Gedrych said “she is a vulnerable girl and needs protecting from herself”. This comment came shortly after Gedrych described how the young girl had virtually jumped on Edgecombe. The judge, Roderick Evans mentioned that he needed to “balance the need to protect young girls and the need to punish Edgecombe”.
The second case is nearly as absurd as the first. Twenty-three year old Michal Lockwood met a twelve-year old girl over the Internet. After several months, during which the pair swapped naked images and professed their love one for another, they agreed to meet in person. At that point, the girl was thirteen years old. During the first meeting, although they kissed and snuggled together, there was no sexual contact. A month later, however, the two lovers arranged to meet again and at that point engaged in sexual activities (but apparently not intercourse) in a hotel room. The relationship came to light when the girl told school friends about the relationship and these friends in turn informed their parents.
Once again, there is no question of consent. The girl in question willingly was involved in a relationship lasting several months. She met Lockwood in person more than once, indicating quite clearly that she felt comfortable with him and desired to be with him. Both partners expressed their love for each other. Even the judge acknowledged that the girl was an active participant in the relationship, but added that “girls of this age must be protected from themselves”. Aha…
The phenomenon of young girls falling for older men has been explored by playwright David Harrower in his play Blackbird, which recounts the tale of a twelve-year old who becomes involved with a forty-year old man and the consequences of that relationship over fifteen years. The volatile subject has obviously spurred some very strong reactions. Harrower, however, says that he has been approached by quite a few women who had relationships with adult men as pre-pubescent girls and reacted positively to his play. “They absolutely concur with what is written in the play. They were not abused. They knew what they were doing when they were twelve. I’m not going to argue with them.” Nor should we.