By Devon Dick
THE INCIDENTS of sexual abuse and rape of our children show that adult men are perceiving children as sex objects and targets for violence. Therefore, the age for consensual sex should demonstrate that children ought not to be objects for sexual abuse. And since the law defines a child as one who is 18 years and younger, therefore the age for consensual sex with an adult male should be 18. This is not the first call for it to be increased. In 2006, Children's Advocate Mary Clarke agitated for it but it fell on deaf ears.
The age of consent is presently at 16, which means that grown men can target young, impressionable and vulnerable 16-year-old girls as sexual prey. These men can use their superior financial resources, guile and experience to lure 16-year-olds. Furthermore, some men have superstitious beliefs that sex with a young virgin can cure venereal disease. Additionally, who really believes that a 16-year-old is ready emotionally, intellectually and financially to care for a child? And which parent wants his or her 16-year-old to mother a child?
The change in the age of consent from 16 to 18 is aimed at grown men. Therefore, if two teenagers (male and female) have consensual sexual intercourse, that would not be a crime. However, for a man 18 years old and older, it should be a crime.
The issue is whether a child is responsible enough to bring another child into the world.
NOT FOR CHILDREN
The age of 16 for consensual sex is too early because the possibility exists that a baby can result from such sexual encounter. Furthermore, it is expected that a child will be in school until at least the age of 17, and it would be difficult to manage child rearing while undertaking secondary-school education.
By the law defining a person as a child up to the age of 18, it is stating that a child needs the protection of legislators and parents until 18. Additionally, when is a person old enough and responsible enough to drive a vehicle, drink alcohol, vote, marry, work and gamble?
Having the age for consensual sex as 16 while the age to vote is 18, and one has to be 17 before one can get a driver's licence and one cannot get married without parental consent before the age of 18 seems confusing.
Voting for a political party is not a life-and-death issue, while sex could involve bringing a life into being. So how could it be that one must be older to vote than to have sex?
Also, how could the age for consensual sex be lower than the age to get a driver's licence? And some general insurance companies refuse to insure teenagers without some ridiculously high loading on the premiums.
It is really incredible that at 16, one could engage in coitus that could lead to childbearing, but is unable to be gainfully employed; one could not get married without parental consent, but could be living in a house with a grown man and engaging in sex, without parental approval.
The law which determines the age at which one is responsible to engage in sex needs to be changed and should not be lower than the age to marry, vote or get a driver's licence and should definitely be post-secondary school education age.
Reverend Devon Dick is pastor |of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. Send feedback to email@example.com.