I thought she was 18 I swear!

18 Feb

Rape is a bit of a touchy subject in our society and it’s yet another thing that gets swept under the carpet. It’s not a serious crime apparently, although I think it’s one of the most horrific crimes.

I want to talk about statutory rape. What the hell is that I hear you ask? Well I’m with you on that one; surely rape is rape?

Seemingly not.

I had a conversation with someone recently about their 14 year old friend who has fallen pregnant for the second time by her 23 year old boyfriend. Me being me, I probed for information and found out she had her first child when she was 12 and he must have been 21. Surely that’s illegal? Although she has “consented”, she’s too young to realise what that means and he is old enough to see she is clearly a child. That’s what I classify as paedophilia. I don’t know about you but when I was 12 I had braces and my idea of fun was playing in the park or colouring, basically holding onto my innocence.

I decided to do some research on this because I was so stunned that this couple are legally allowed to start a family when she is still a child. According to the free online dictionary “the criminal offense of statutory rape is committed when an adult sexually penetrates a person who, under the law, is incapable of consenting to sex. Minors and physically and mentally incapacitated persons are deemed incapable of consenting to sex under rape statutes in all states. These persons are considered deserving of special protection because they are especially vulnerable due to their youth or condition.”

So, to get to the point, rape is unconsented sometimes with force and statutory rape is rape with someone who is classified as unable to consent. Aren’t they the same thing really?

I continued to research into the laws surround this and one particular fact shocked me more than any other. One definition of an unlawful sexual act is by a man with a girl under 13, section 5 Sexual Offences Act 1956, (Archbold 2004, 20-63 and Archbold 20-64).

Why is that age so low?

I get that girls physically mature at a young age and in some circumstance it’s not the guys fault if he believes she is over 16. However, I’m referring to adult men over the age of 18 and to mistake the physical difference between a 12 year old and a 16 year old is inexcusable.

In amongst the many websites I visited, I found an autobiographical account of statutory rape. She explains how he didn’t necessarily force her, but she also clearly states she didn’t realise what was happening until it happened. I think that’s extremely important because she was a child, and he was an adult. Last time I checked adults are meant to look after children and teach them life lessons. That’s definitely not a life lesson to be learnt at the age of 12! I am absolutely disgusted that there aren’t firmer laws to protect these victims because it’s easier to blame the child isn’t it? But it’s not their fault.

I found a study conducted in 2005 and bearing in mind the date, it still provided me with some interesting facts:

. 95% of statutory rape victims are female

. 3 out of 5 victims (both male and female) were either 14 or 15

. Of all offenders of male statutory rape victims, 94% were female.

. 6 out of 10 offenders were acquaintances of the victims. Only 3 out of 10 were boyfriends/girlfriends.

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/208803.pdf

There are so many loopholes involving rape / statutory rape and like I said sometimes it is a genuine mistake of age but there is no way a 12 year old girl can pass for 16. Yes there is make-up but that’s not enough, I don’t care what excuses there are, it’s bulls*it.

Another point I want to make out is that there are male victims too and I think people forget or bypass the fact that men/boys get raped too. Needless to say it is less common but it doesn’t warrant being ignored.

A male relative of someone I know came out as gay when he was 16. He decided to venture out into the gay scene and on his first night out he should have been confident and happy that he could be who he is. Unfortunately that night he was raped by an older man twice is size and has lived the life of a recluse ever since. It’s upsetting when you realise that such an insignificant act for the offender can have such long term consequences for the victim. It’s not fair.

In my last article I said how I was going to be more positive and I’m not shying away from that. I have tried to remain positive and this article wasn’t an opportunity for me to smother you all with my feminist beliefs. I wrote this piece to point out the facts surrounding rape, and the laws that simply do not protect innocent minors because that what they are…children.

Rape ruins people’s lives. Period.

About the Writer: Melody has just finished a degree in Journalism, Film and Media with a 2:1. She aspires to work with vulnerable women and children subject to domestic, and or other forms of abuse. She is an animal lover and has a small obsession with Fearne Cotton. She is a constant joker and can be found on Twitter.

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