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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Canada's Age of Consent laws have changed!

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Author Topic: Canada's Age of Consent laws have changed!
Leabug
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http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/story.html?id=731fee39-10a0-4756-93f0-b709f69b5cf7&k=99942

Just so all the Canadian users here are aware, the AOC laws for Canada have just been changed- the AOC is now 16, rather than 14.

What do you guys think about this decision?

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Lea

Posts: 2332 | From: Canada | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
strumpet
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They do still have the close in age thing, so if there is 5 years or less age difference, it is not a criminal offense, ie a 19 year old and a 15 year old. Apparently this is supposed to help protect adolescents from sexual predators. THAT is what confuses me. I mean last time I checked, any unwanted sexual contact, clearly stated as BEING UNWANTED counted as sexual abuse. Does changing the age really make a difference here?
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hunnybunny888
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I think it's unnecesary...similar to the drug legalization issues
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Stephanie_1
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Why do you feel it's unnecessary hunnybunny?

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

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Bun Bun
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I'm unsure how I feel about the law. It doesn't apply to me because I'm 17, turning 18 this month and my partner is 17 and 18 in November.

Part of me agrees that the age of consent should be higher because in my personal experience, 14 was NOT old enough to understand the emotional aspects of sex. Many 14 year olds that I know would not be able to make an informed decision about having sex, either. Since I've become sexually active, I've realized how much there is to learn about sex - including things that I wish I had known beforehand (lube is not for old people!). I'm unsure if a 14-year-old would be able to get a hold of the proper information. My grade 8 sex-ed class focused on puberty, not sexual health.

However, that's just my experience. Though I don't know any, there could be 14-year-olds out there that are able to accept the responsiblities that accompany sex.

And strumpet, I believe that the 5 years age difference exemption is added because "so that teens who engage in sex are not breaking the law.". Unwanted sexual contact is still sexual abuse, but if you're 15 and dating a 19 year old, like you said, having consensual sex is not illegal. I think that they're trying to protect teens under 16 by making it so that not only would an adult be charged with sexual abuse, but with sexual abuse of a minor. I'm not fully versed on the legalities, but I'm pretty sure that's what it is.

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strumpet
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yeah, i get the close in age clause. I just don't know why they think changing the age of consent is going to prevent sexual abuse. i mean, is a potential abuser going to say, whoops, guess i won't rape this kid, bc he/she is only 15. then its illegal. what, guess i'll go rape someone older? sexual abuse is sexual abuse.
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Leabug
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Strumpet, I felt the same way. Perhaps it just makes it easier to prosecute people for child abuse? Somehow I doubt a change in the AOC laws will deter any rapists/abusers.

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Lea

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Heather
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The history of AOC laws is actually pretty fascinating, usually having more to do -- initially, anyway in England -- with protecting children from being prostituted out by parents to adults than anything else.

Here is some overview of Canada's AOC history and AOC system: http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/PRBpubs/prb993-e.htm

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Leabug
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That was an interesting link, Heather- specifically when they were discussing how it was illegal in the past to have sex with a girl under 16 "of previously chaste character". Kinda makes you wonder what the laws would have done, if anything, to help a girl who was, perhaps, not so chaste?

I know you're not totally in agreement with some AOC laws, Heather; just curious, if you don't mind me asking, why is that?

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Lea

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Heather
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I'm not in agreement with them pretty much, period. And I do think some of why is that there are some pretty noxious ideas about "purity" and "innocence" at play with the laws.

I might be if they were structured or enacted in other ways.

For the most part, I guess I feel like they tend to make the younger person wind up being the person all freaked out and scared: I've heard so many younger people over the years feel like they're responsible for getting an older partner in trouble. Given, sometimes that's not only misplaced (really, it always is, since we're only responsible for ourselves, and those with more life experience are in a better position to take care of themselves), but about younger people not really realizing that their older partners are well aware of the risks they're taking and figure that a younger person isn't going to talk, or that they can blame them if the you-know-what hits the fan. All the same, as the posters here have said, I don't see AOC laws being a real deterrent for older people looking to exploit younger people.

They don't do anything at all to protect youth, anyway: all they do is potentially punish those who have already done them harm, as well as sometimes punishing those when no harm was done at all. A system of punishment is not really a system of protections.

As well, we all know that age-in-years doesn't tend to be a sound measure of development. Of, say, all 15-year-olds, you're going to find a very wide range of emotional maturity levels and intellect. While this 15-year-old may very well not be in a spot to give real, informed consent, this other one may be.

I think it's interesting to note that often the countries with the lowest AOCs have far lower rates of STIs and unwanted pregnancies then we do here, as well as less issues with exploitation in this regard, period. A lot of that seems to be due to the fact that the law isn't needed when the social and cultural norms both empower youth and also strongly disapprove of exploitation. I think in North America, some of the issue with AOC laws is that it's a very mixed message: our laws say sexualizing or sexually exploiting young people is not okay, but our consumer culture not only tends to okay it, but to capitalize on young adult sexuality -- in a pretty grotesque and disempowering way, in my book -- all the time.

And AOC laws are just one of those things where I think if we invested more energy in empowering our youth -- particularly girls -- and rearing our youth with very clear limits and boundaries (rather that purposefully obscuring them to fit our agendas), with the tools to really say no when no was what was wanted, and to say yes, when yes was what was wanted, we'd do a lot better by everyone when it comes to protecting them than laws like these can.

Mind, clearly we need sets of laws which do provide everyone protections against sexual abuse and exploitation, but refining our rape and other sexual abuse laws, as well as sex trafficking laws seems to me a far better way to do that.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Leabug
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I definately agree with what you're saying here. I've always felt that the age limits set by AOC laws are really arbitrary- I've known plenty of people over the age of consent who probably were not ready, maturity-wise, for sex, and plenty who were ready when they were below that age.

I never really thought of AOC laws creating the sort of contradiction you mentioned, though, with society capitalizing on youth sexuality, but laws condemning it. That's certainly food for thought.

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Lea

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Heather
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Sure is. Especially when you consider who is actually profiting: the adults, not the teens. Looking at most child stars and where the income they earned usually winds up is a telling and sad place to look when we're examining that.

Which actually leads us in full circle back to the reason for the advent of those laws, when it comes to protecting teens from parents and other adults prostituting them. Oy.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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