23.12.2013

Age of consent and teenage pregnancy

The specific age of consent of 16 does not address the form of consent that one gives but merely the age one is legally allowed to give consent. In the United Kingdom the age of consent for sexual activity is currently 16, regardless of gender or sexuality. The recent police investigations under Operation Yewtree and related Operations have led to Barrister Barbara Hewson calling for the age of consent to be lowered to 13 whilst noted Gay Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell has called for an age of 14 for consent, with tiering of the age dependent upon the age of the person with whom the younger partner is sexually involved .
The Health Survey of 2010 conducted on behalf of the government (the most recent for which statistics are available) cites the average age for one to lose one’s virginity is 17 years old, but that 20% of males and 14% of females had sex before the legal age of consent. Having a specific cut-off age at which one is legally able to give consent has implications beyond that of consenting to sex. Freely informed renewed consent is a concept vital to any discussion about reducing the age of consent, to any person embarking on a sexual relationship, or to any curious about their burgeoning sexuality or lack of (asexuality is a variation of sexuality which seems to be all but ignored by society in its obsession with objectification and titillation, or seen as unnatural and a joke; as is faced by any form of sexuality that is not hetero, there is discrimination). All this is irrelevant unless the form of consent given is addressed in law and in sex education for all.
TinaPJ covers women’s health issues, feminism, community activism, and politics (and ranting).


For the purposes of the law, sex is defined as any form of sexual activity and this was set down in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Clearly, a large number of people are having sex regardless of the legality of the situation, and under law are committing statutory rape. Access to birth control and contraceptive advice may be restricted and the knowledge that one will be ‘breaking the law’ may inhibit those embarking on sexual relationships from seeking such advice and contraception.
There still exists a double-standard by which girls are judged negatively if they have active sex lives, and boys are lauded for the same activity.
There is no leeway in the set age of 16 for legality of the relationship – sex under 16 is illegal and that is the bottom line.
Original articles published for PilotTV News must be republished or reposted with attribution and for non-commercial purposes as otherwise stated in the Attribution-Non-Commercial-No-Derivatives Creative Commons 3.0 license. The statutory rape provision is designed to protect the vulnerable under the age of 16 who may be being sexually exploited, but this does not take into account consensual relationships or sexual encounters that those under the age of 16 may be entering into. The Health Survey found that the younger a person became sexually active, the more at risk of STIs and pregnancy that person was.


Non-heterosexual relationships are judged harshly with the term ‘gay’ being a common insult in the age group most affected by the age of consent although it has filtered upwards throughout society.
I would propose a tiered age of consent similar to the model already in action in Germany, Italy and Switzerland for example; an age of consent lowered to 13 for relationships in which the partners do not differ in age by more than 3 years up to a blanket age of consent of 16 for all, with no age limit between partners.
Consent must be freely given, based on a truly informed position, constantly renewable and never assumed. Without a widespread understanding of such a form of consent, amending the age of consent is merely a legal amendment with no real affect on rape culture in which we live, or on the abuse that exists within relationships.
Magazine Online for under 16s and she regularly annoys people with her poetry in live performance.
Freely given, informed and renewable consent is fundamental to empowering people to be able to say no and to having that ‘no’ accepted and respected. We do need an age of consent in order to address the legal prosecution of abuse and rape, but we also need to take into account the burgeoning sexual exploration of teenagers.



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