Please note: The topic of this article may be triggering to some. This article deals with sensitive topics surrounding sexual offences, especially those of children. Please be aware of this before you read. There are some contact details at the end for anyone who needs someone to talk to.
A disgusting disgraceful decision
A political opinion article by Matt Coot
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advises that the Sexual Offences Act 1956 means that any “boy or girl under the age of 16 cannot give consent” (Archbold 2004, 20-152). The Sexual Offences Act 2003, under section 74, defines consent as: “a person consents if he agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice”. So it seems pretty clear to me that any engagement in any sexual activity with anyone under the age of 16 is a criminal offence and that no child under the age of 16 can legally give consent. That’s clear, right? So why isn’t this clear to the government?
A freedom of information request has revealed that since 2012, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has refused compensation payouts to almost 700 victims of sexual abuse. That’s children. Children under the age of consent who have been abused and had their lives ruined. Why have they been refused compensation? They consented to their abuse.
Hold on a minute, what? They consented? But the CPS advises that any “boy or girl under the age of 16 cannot give consent” so how can the CICA justify this?
I’ve heard about one victim being refused compensation because “she had not been the victim of non-consensual sexual acts”. This girl was raped and sexually assaulted by a gang of older men. They were jailed for 30 years. She was 14 at the time of the abuse. This is pretty clear to me, and anyone else using a logical brain and has studied the relevant law, that this was non-consensual. To refuse this girl compensation is disgusting. This type of behaviour could lead to victims feeling as if they are responsible for their abuse, which is the last thing that we, as a society, should be encouraging.
Abusers are experts at manipulation. They can make their victims believe that they have to do as the abuser wants. They can make it seem like a game, or make it seem like the child wants it, or that there really isn’t a choice. They will manipulate the child and the situation to make it appear like consent. It isn’t consent. It is abuse. It is rape.
I have had people disclose personal information regarding their experiences of abuse and rape. We have talked at length about the devastating effect this has had on their lives. They suffer from flashbacks, disturbing memories, and a fear of attachment to another person. They struggle to maintain relationships and don’t know who they can trust. I’m never going to reveal who these people are and I am never going to reveal their personal stories, but I am going to reveal that if the government turned around and told these people that they consented to what had happened to them, that it was their fault, then I can guarantee that these people who disclosed this horrific information to me would probably end up doing something drastic, such as ending their lives. We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot allow those in a position of responsibility to continue the cycle of abuse that these victims have struggled through all of their lives.
The age of consent in this country is 16 years. If you are 16 or older, then you can give consent to have sex and take part in sexual activities. Anyone lower than that cannot. It is that simple. The law says so. CICA refusing compensation to victims of abuse and rape is a disgusting disgraceful decision that needs to change.
If you agree with me, which I’m sure that you will, please contact your MP to demand action. I’ll be contacting my local MP to see if she can let me know her opinion on this matter and to see what she will be doing about it.
If you have been affected by this news, if you have been a victim of abuse, please do not stay silent. There are people who care and people who will understand. We cannot change what has happened, I’m sorry, I wish we could, but what we can do is support you and help you to find a way to continue with life without the shadow of abuse following you around. Contact someone now, it will help. I’ve left some links below for you.
NSPCC: 08088005000 (free support line) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Victim Support: 08 08 16 89 111 (free support line)
Samaritans: 116 123 (free support line) or email@example.com
Report a crime: call 101 (please note: website link is for Devon & Cornwall police)
Or, if you don’t feel like you can talk to any of them, feel free to send me an email. Anything you say will remain between us (unless I feel that you’re at risk): firstname.lastname@example.org Please note: I am not a trained counsellor. I am just a guy who will listen, understand, and give advice.