Statuatory Rape: AKA Jailbate.

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Obi-Wan McCartney, Apr 6, 2002.

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  1. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    I don't know if I have addressed this before... but... there's an interesting experiment in Amsterdam going on.

    Their law is structured something like this:

    16 is the legal age of majority. Consentual sex is allowed between a minor aged between 12-16 and an adult. HOWEVER, the sex must be consented upon by both the minor and the minor's parent(s). They both can bring charges of statutory rape against an individual... furthermore, laws against rape, sexual abuse, harassment, etc. would still apply, regardless of the age of the consenting parties.

    This is a particularly interesting example of applied law... because what it says is that their culture knows these things happen. Instead of inundating the courts with tons of cases that have little legal merit, the law has been structured in such a way that it both protects the minor's rights, but also graduates teenage minors towards developing their own degree of sexual responsibility.

    Pretending that it doesn't happen or creating laws to hope that it doesn't happen has neither made teens more responsible nor safer from true sexual predators. A hybrid law is far from being accepted in the conservative atmosphere of America, but given time, we might find that the only key to protecting teens is giving them elevated responsibility for their own decisions in addition to rights and protections under the law. Ultimately, they do have to live out in the real world, and a graduated approach instead of a sudden "casting out" into the adult world may prove far more effective in preparing one psychologically and physically for the real world.
  2. Nunquam Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2000
    star 1
    You bring up very good points about responsibility and the ideas the Dutch have are worth examining.

    However, the tricky thing is the comparison between a country as large and diverse as the US, with one that is small and fairly homogeneous like the Netherlands.

    95% of the people in the Netherlands are Dutch, and so share similar values and are more often of one mind. They have a peaceful, orderly society and have the luxury of being more liberal with their laws, government, economic policies, etc. They can rely more on similar social mores and behavior to help keep order in their country.

    The size of the entire population of the Netherlands is roughly equivalent to the population of one metropolitan area (of many) in the US. Their crime rate is less than a fourth of the US crime rate.
  3. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    We have state and municipal governments for a reason :D

  4. Duckman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2000
    star 4
    I think the protection of "children" has gone too far, though.
    For example, I heard a few years ago that Playboy got in trouble for posting photospreads of 17yo models, though they had turned 18 before the photos were actually published. So Playboy had to end that practise.
    Can anyone tell me what the difference is between an adult fantasising about a hot girl who's seventeen years and 11 months old, and one that's just turned 18? I can't see the difference, myself.
  5. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    I find it particularly hilarious that we have reservations about it now, knowing what we know about biological urges and puberty, and yet the Puritan forefathers of this nation were marrying off their daughters as early as 12, and sometimes to men twice the girl's age.

    Personally, if a 16 year old girl wanted to have sex with a 20 year old... We, as a society, have better things to do than waste our time and tax dollars on this issue.
  6. Nunquam Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2000
    star 1
    Both Duckman and Snowdog once again use two poor arguments to justify repealing the statutory rape laws: splitting hairs over age, and "they did it in the past, so it should be okay today, too."

    Both have been brought up multiple times in the thread, neither is reason enough to take away the protection the law provides for the majority of minors. (Look at the earlier posts in the thread.)
  7. ami-padme Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 1999
    star 4
    I find it particularly hilarious that we have reservations about it now, knowing what we know about biological urges and puberty, and yet the Puritan forefathers of this nation were marrying off their daughters as early as 12, and sometimes to men twice the girl's age.

    I'm not sure I understand this as an argument in favor of doing the same thing today (well, at least making the same thing legal). Besides generally not liking the "they used to do it, so it must be alright" arguments...the reasons for marrying girls off at young ages in the past weren't exactly stellar. It's not as though this was done out of some respect for the sexuality of young people, or young women...or out of respect for women period. Or out of love (in most cases, I'd wager, girls who were simply "married off" in Puritan households probably weren't closely consulted as to their feelings). Yes, there were some more practical concerns that went into it (i.e., shorter life-spans), that don't apply at all now. The other reasons that made it acceptable to let (or make) one's young daughter marry an older man aren't really things we ought to aspire to now, I'd think.

    I guess I don't understand what the appeal of this agrument is supposed to be, other than to show that young girls can engage in sex and get married, and that back in times were women were essentially treated as property, and expected to do little more than get married and have children (and in very strict religions not known for gender equality), they didn't worry about things like statutory rape. I would honestly like to know how that helps the argument that statutory rape laws aren't needed. (I haven't quite read the entire thread yet, so if I'm rehashing, forgive me.)


    Does it become a grayer issue the older the teens get? Sure. But that doesn't mean the entire concept in wrong and unneeded.
  8. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    I just find it funny that America's conservative religious/moral compass keeps changing direction throughout the times... that's all.

    My position has nothing to do with that statement... it wasn't an argument for or against, necessarily. My position is, however, that I have better things to do than to see my tax dollars go up in smoke enforcing things that shouldn't be the concern of the public sector.

    We have laws protecting adults from rape... Those laws aren't magically null and void in cases of minors being raped/molested. If Law A already deals with something, creating Laws B-D to deal with a segment of the population doesn't help... especially when increased enforcement of Law A would solve the problem. However, what we do is create Laws B-D to try to fix the gap. What makes anyone think we can properly enforce the specialized laws when the general laws aren't being enforced well enough in the first place?

    It's a bit like a person who keeps dropping a carton of eggs on his way home from the grocery store... What makes more sense? To focus on a better way to carry the one carton, or to grab three more cartons so three cartons get spilled instead of one?
  9. ami-padme Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 1999
    star 4
    I just find it funny that America's conservative religious/moral compass keeps changing direction throughout the times... that's all.

    I doubt there are many moral compasses that remain compeltely unchanged throughout time...and I thought your implication is that we're now more backwards regarding young girls than our Puritan forefathers, because we're "hilariously" worrying about things they didn't think twice about doing (i.e., marrying off girls at age twelve). If that isn't what you meant, then my mistake...


    If Law A already deals with something, creating Laws B-D to deal with a segment of the population doesn't help...

    Yes, but I think the general definition of rape and statutory rape are two different things. If a guy has sex with a eight year old, and claims it was consensual, and the child doesn't disagree, that wouldn't fall under the general notion of "rape," since the sex (apparently) wasn't done against anybody's will. The question is, can a child of a certain age give consent to have sex with an adult? If not, then you have to create laws "B-D" don't you? (If you believe a child of any age can give consent, than I'd grant your point...then you'd only have to worry about children who are raped in the conventional sense, as opposed to kids who "wanted" to have sex. I don't believe that children of all ages can give proper consent, so I think statutory rape laws of some shape or form are necessary, since "regular" rape laws wouldn't always apply when needed.)


    As I said before, I agree that to say a 16 year old can't give consent is a stretch (I think the adults involved are still using them shamelessly, but older teens certainly know what they're doing in a way that younger children simply don't). But frankly, I find it unsurprising that the age of consent is relatively high, since the age of "adulthood" for other things (i.e., driving, voting, smoking, drinking, joining the armed forces) is also high. I'm open to arguments that perhaps the general idea of when you become "adult" enough for certain things should be changed; but I also feel that as far as consensual sex with adults goes, you have to draw the line somewhere, and drawing it near to the rest of the "adult" things makes a certain amount of cultural sense. At least to me.
  10. Estelita Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 2
    Laws about statuatory rape were made for a reason. Sure, some fourteen year olds are mature for their age (note: for their age) and can make the decision. But many people I knew were, at that age, only just beginning to learn about themselves and other people, developing strong crushes unlike the childish ones, etc. It's not enough to know about physiological functions. Point is, eighteen seems a safe age to put the limit at. It's probably at the upper end of the most common safe ages. I don't see what's wrong with it; if a person is mature, then that person should be able to wait. The laws were made to protect younger people from being exploited by older ones. I know that it still happens--all laws get broken, but they help too.
  11. Darth_SnowDog Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2001
    star 4
    Granted, I agree that there's a point at which people aren't capable of rationally giving their own consent... but this is where parents become the adjudicators in the sense that... in the case of the Amsterdam laws, a child or a parent can bring a criminal complaint against an individual for forcing themselves upon the minor against their will.

    By law, in America, parents are the adjudicatory benefactor in their children's life... I mean to say that, as any officer will tell you, to a child, a parent is the authority... as well as the guardian of that child's rights. Any parent can decide, as the child's governing body, that their child was raped... it doesn't require a law to automatically make all sexual interactions, consentual or not, between teenagers and adults, rape by statutory standards.

    The worst example of application of statutory rape laws is perhaps in states such as Montana... where an adult can be charged with 3rd degree statutory rape for driving barefoot with a minor present in the same vehicle. Does this make sense to anyone here?

    Come on, people... we have the judiciary system for a reason... to interpret law. If the law says rape is illegal, it's the court's job to use their mental and legal faculties, a combination of precedent and common sense and compassion, to determine rationally what is and isn't rape on a case by case basis. This requires a lot more thinking, sure... but are we that lazy that we have to waste everyone's time by trying cases of consentual sex between a 17 year old and a 20 year old?

    We also have emancipation laws... there are professionals in various fields including entertainment, such as Jena Malone, age 17, who have gained legal emancipation from their parents because they have demonstrated themselves to be competent in managing their personal and professional responsibilities.

    I'm just suggesting that there are a variety of ways we could deal with these issues which we have not considered. I seriously doubt we have tried everything, and it's clear that what we're doing now is not working... Our present approach has not decreased teen pregnancy, eliminated rape or molestation of minors, it doesn't prepare minors gradually for the responsibility that will be suddenly thrust upon them at age 18, nor does it protect the rights of those minors who are competent enough to make decisions about sex for themselves.

    It's as if we're saying we're too stupid to figure things out on a case by case basis, and we believe all kids under the age of 18 are too stupid so we won't give them any credit, or any opportunity to gain the experience of decision making they will need when they leap out into the real world... There's obviously room for improvement.

    PS: There are also plenty of 20, 30 and 40-year olds who make decisions irresponsibly... should we move the age of majority to the upper "safe limit" of 55... where we can be reasonably certain people have "all their marbles?"
  12. ami-padme Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 1999
    star 4
    in the case of the Amsterdam laws, a child or a parent can bring a criminal complaint against an individual for forcing themselves upon the minor against their will.

    "Forcing against their will"? I just want to be sure we're talking about similar circumstances here...does the child have to say that he/she is the victim of a forcible, violent rape, or can "rape" charges be brought in any case by the child or parent (regardless of the question of consent) as long as the victim is a certain age? If it's the former, I don't think that goes far enough, because I don't think children can consent (up to a certain age). If it's the latter, then that sounds fine to me, but I'm not sure what the distinction is here between the laws in America and Amsterdam. That the parents can also complain? Is the age of consent in Amsterdam much lower?


    Any parent can decide, as the child's governing body, that their child was raped... it doesn't require a law to automatically make all sexual interactions, consentual or not, between teenagers and adults, rape by statutory standards.

    So, the parents decide the age of consent for their children, and make complaints accordingly? There are no standards set by the government at all? I feel like I'm not understanding this fully, I'm sorry. Does that mean from parent to parent, one could theoretically know their eight year old had sex with an adult, not decide the child was raped, and no charges can be brought? And another parent could decide their 17 year old was raped by their 19 year old boyfriend?



    Where an adult can be charged with 3rd degree statutory rape for driving barefoot with a minor present in the same vehicle. Does this make sense to anyone here?

    No. But does that make every single statutory law in the nation wrong? Or the concept of age of consent laws wrong? If one of them is wacky, they must all be?


    If the law says rape is illegal, it's the court's job to use their mental and legal faculties, a combination of precedent and common sense and compassion, to determine rationally what is and isn't rape on a case by case basis.

    I suppose this is where you and I differ...I don't think there's any case where children of a certain age can consent to sex and it not be "rape". So I think there should be somewhere where the line is drawn. Personally, I think it's more a waste of time (and not right, generally), to think that the courts should spend their energy in determining whether a child (6, 8, 10, whatever) was "raped"" or not if its known they've had sex with an adult.


    we have to waste everyone's time by trying cases of consentual sex between a 17 year old and a 20 year old?

    Again, to me, arguing that the age should be lowered (is it really 17 in any state, btw?) is a different thing than saying that the very idea of statutory rape laws are unneccesary. If your argument is that 17 year olds are able to consent, I'd agree with you. If it's that because older teens can consent, there should be no age of consent at all...I guess we'd just disagree on that.


    We also have emancipation laws...

    Because a relatively small number of older teens have proved to the court they're competent adults, age of consent is wrong?


    I'm just suggesting that there are a variety of ways we could deal with these issues which we have not considered.

    I'm sure there are, and I'm open to suggestions...I just don't see why the exceptions, or the gray areas (such as 17 year olds) mean that the rule itself needs to be thrown out, rather than simply adjusted.


    Well, this post is longer than I intended. I just want to make sure I understand your arguments.


    PS: should we move the age of majority to the upper "safe limit" of 55... where we can be reasonably certain people have "all their marbles?"

    No. No system is perfect, and when you draw lines there will always be exceptions...like idiot 40 year olds, and super-mature 14 year olds. Doesn't mean the lines can't or shouldn't
  13. Estelita Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2001
    star 2
    No, putting the age of consent at 18 is *not* saying that all people under 18 are too stupid to make decisions, any more than it is saying that everyone over 18 is mature enough to handle it. But there has to be a line drawn somewhere, and has to be a legal age somewhere where it's time to be responsible. Waiting till 18 shouldn't be too hard, and if anything it should help a teenager prove that he or she is mature. Not that that's what the law is for; all laws require us to give up a little freedom for the good of others (your use of 55 reminded me of the speed limit).

    Honestly, if a 17 year old and 20 year old cannot wait or simply "lost their heads", are they mature enough?

    I'm surprised any nation allows the legal age to be 12 or 14... 12 is the average age a girl has her menarche and boys *begin* puberty. I think. I know there are many mature young people out there, but most develop faster physically than emotionally. Here's hoping they're mature enough to wait, and finish high school.
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