Not as serious as others?

In the cold light of morning I’m wondering if Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke MP, in making his widely reported comments about rape, has accidentally put his finger on a deeper problem.

Is it rape when a 15-year old girl takes her 17-year old boyfriend back to her home and willingly shags him rigid?

How can this act, between two willing, consenting and wholly enthusiastic future Jeremy Kyle subjects, compare with the brutalism of forced sex?

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7 Responses to Not as serious as others?

  1. Dream in Grey says:

    In answer to your question yes it is because its illegal. If the girl was 9 and took her boyfriend back home and willingly shagged him rigid would there be a question?

    If the girl was unable to give consent and was 15 but took her 17-year old boyfriend back to her home and willingly shagged him rigid would that be different?

    you can’t pick and choose what is rape and what isn’t. If someone does not give consent or is below the age when they are able to give consent it is rape.

    brutalism doesn’t come into it

    • Brennig says:

      Although I can see your position, I feel it reflects our flawed legal position on two levels. Firstly, how can it be illegal for a girl to willingly, enthusiastically jump all over her 17-year old boyfriend when she is 15-years, 11 months and 30 days of age – when 24 hours later it is legal for the same person to do the same thing? What’s changed in 24 hours? Has she made a massive leap of maturity overnight? Has her intellect somehow expanded while she slept? The answer to the lead question is ‘nothing has changed’.

      Secondly, I would put it to you that victims of brutal rape would say that the 15-year, 11 months and 30-day old girl who consensually jumped all over her boyfriend was not a victim of the same crime.

      And that’s the nub of the wrongness. Consensual ‘statutory rape’, as Ken Clarke was inelegantly trying to put it in his own ham-fisted fashion, is not the same crime as non-consensual rape.

      The legal definitions need to be reworked and reworded. ‘Just because the law says it is so’ is no justification because the law, as frequently demonstrated, is a complete ass.

      • Dream in Grey says:

        “I would put it to you that victims of brutal rape would say that the 15-year, 11 months and 30-day old girl who consensually jumped all over her boyfriend was not a victim of the same crime”

        I absolutely and wholeheartedly disagree

        • Amanda says:

          Of course you are right. Surviving an abusive rape is not the same experience as the loving scenario you have depicted.

  2. IanB says:

    Over here in the US the age of consent varies from state to state with a range of 16, 17 and 18. In theory a 16 or 17 year-old couple could be in a legal sexual relationship in their home state but break the law whilst visiting another state.

    Big difference between statutory rape and criminal rape. Rape should perhaps have a better definition, one where the concept of consent is included more explicitly and a definition of violent rape being…well, violence.

    Two sixteen year-olds sneaking upstairs and doing things the law says they cannot is very very different from an overtanned Frenchman forcing himself on a maid against her wishes leaving her wholly traumatized by the experience. Both are different again from a sweaty lunatic who jumps from behind a bush and smacks his target over the head with a hammer before sodomizing her and leaving her for dead.

    • Brennig says:

      I agree with you on the differences, and concur that the current definition is a blunt-edged tool that serves only limited usefulness. If the legal powers of the UK really felt that ‘rape is rape’ and consensual statutory rape was of the same gravity as forced rape, the police would be arresting a significant proportion of school-children. The CPS would also be prosecuting a fairly large number of – ‘married’ – Asians. But they’re not, because it *is* different.

  3. tenderhooligan says:

    The debate re. consenting sex between teenagers (one of whom happens to be under the “legal age”) has been going on for quite some time now. (Though, of course, “lower class” teenagers aren’t the only ones having sex by a long shot.) It’s incredibly difficult, currently, for the criminal justice system and wider society to differentiate between consensual sex and sexual assault when any act occurs between, say, a 15 year old and a 17 year old.

    A Chief Constable a few years back dared to suggest that we should, perhaps, be moving away from criminalising such acts if they are truly consensual and there was uproar. But he was right. There are obvious differences in consensual sex that takes place between a 17 year old and a 15 year old and a sex act that takes place between a 27 year old and a 15 year old (for reasons of maturity, responsibility, cognition etc.) but even then the issues are more nuanced than they first appear. The problem, for me, largely comes down to the arbitrary nature of any of any of our ages of consent/ legality. They present enormous problems (the age of criminal responsibility is arguably the worst) for both society and the criminal justice system. It is very difficult to argue against criminalising sex between 17/15 year olds with the rigidity of age of consent such that it is.

    Anyway, my point for this comment was that Clarke was not correct in saying that some rapes are more serious than others – all forced sex, regardless of the circumstances, is serious – but, yes, forced sex does unfortunately become conflated with normative, consensual sexual activity between teenagers. Unfortunately for Clarke and us, he himself conflated the two and ended up minimising forced sex into the bargain.