Friday, May 18, 2007

Connecticut Considers Leaving More Children Vulnerable

Connecticut may soon change their statutory rape laws so fewer children are protected from adults or older children/teens.

[a] bill that would increase the allowable age gap between sexually active teens from two to four years is on its way to the Senate floor. If it is enacted, Connecticut's statutory rape law will be similar to those of surrounding states.

When one of the people involved is 15 or younger, a 4 year gap is too wide and leaves far too much room for sexual manipulation and sexual abuse. That other states allow greater age differences shouldn't be used to justify this change.

Proving rape beyond a reasonable doubt can be difficult with the attitudes many people hold about how certain rapes aren't real assaults since they contain no overt physical violence or threats of physical violence but are merely bad judgment or misunderstandings. They don't understand the real workings of sexual coercion. We need to keep strong laws which put certain minors off limits. We need to tell adults and older teens -- don't even try it.

We need to put the child or younger child's interests above the interest of the adult or older child. If you do it illegally and you get caught, your actions led to the charges. Enough of blaming those who call the cops.

When it comes to stories about bills like this which weaken protections for children, I'm bothered that the only perspective given is the nicest of those convicted of this crime. This artificially sanitizes the reality behind statutory rape.

In the case used to show that the change to the law is needed, the details of the sex which led to the charges is given from this man's perspective and therefore can't be taken as objective. He says he ignored the law because he was in love, but I know first hand that love can also be used as an excuse to ignore lack of consent.

His account of the mutuality of the sexual contact must be viewed with skepticism. It can't be enough that the girl caved in. That is not true consent.

If the punishment for his crime was too severe then that's what needs to be changed. For offenders within a certain age of the victim and with no indicators of coercion or physical violence, it makes sense to suspend making them register as sex offenders unless they violate certain conditions of their parole.

Instead the direction seems to be an all or nothing mindset. If the statutory rapist doesn't seem like a complete monster then he shouldn't be found guilty of any crime. If the cost of that change is allowing more children to be sexual targets then that seems to be fine with plenty of people.

It's a mistake to change criminal statutes solely for the interests of the criminals.

If we're going to evaluate laws based only on the character of the guilty then the DUI laws need massive overhauls since many dangerous drivers who could be subject to severe penalties and prison time are nice people who don't intentionally harm others. Going over the point 8 limit can be rationalized with the same ease as many statutory rapes are rationalized. Same with our drug laws. Many convicted felons don't intentionally hurt anyone. But the lawmakers which are for this change don't seem to be taking the same approach to non-sexual crimes.

At least Connecticut now has a law that will require hospitals to provide accurate information about emergency contraception when they are working with rape victims.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:52 AM   1 comments links to this post


At May 28, 2007 11:28 AM, Blogger Kaethe said...

>We need to keep strong laws which put certain minors off limits.

I disagree, if by "certain minors" you're talking about high school students dating other high school students. Perhaps the problem is that statutory rape laws ignore meaningful consent as a standard for rape in favor of a property standard. Rape victims in general are not helped, I don't think, by laws which assume sex is a thing that can only be taken from them.

Most rapists get away with it, even with a victim's cooperation with police. The only way I can see that statutory rape laws can help prevent rape is if they are vigorously enforced. And I really don't want to see rape prosecutions devoted to entrapment caases.


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