A local high court found a 46-year-old man not guilty of having sex with a runaway teenage girl, saying their liaison was neither forced nor in exchange for money.
The man had invited the 16 year-old girl, who had been homeless for two years, into his home to "offer his house as a shelter to her request." He fed her and gave her pocket money, but "there is no evidence that the offering was in exchange for sex."
In Korea, a person is not guilty of any crime for having sex with a minor aged 13 and over unless it is paid for or forced. Sex with those under the age of 13 is punishable even if it is carried out under mutual consent.Let's be straight: if sex is forced, it's rape; paid for, it's prostitution - both of which are illegal. So minors between the ages of 13 and 18 are basically adults, with all of the sexual rights and responsibilities afforded them.
Personally I have mixed feelings on this issue.
On one hand
- People develop at different rates - who is to say that this particular 16 year-old girl (after two years on the streets, mind you) isn't more mature than your average 22 year-old (sheltered) college senior? Is it really fair to criminalize the sex of one and let the other share her "love" with whomever she pleases?
- Most human beings hit puberty around 13 - which wasn't an unusual age for a woman to get married about 100 years ago.
- If teenagers are scarred from sexual experiences as youth - with peers or adults - it is not from any shame or guilt inherent in the sexual act. It's foisted upon them from a culture that teaches them to feel shame and guilt. Teenagers can - and should! - be taught to appreciate their sexuality. The more they understand themselves the less likely they are to be taken advantage of.
- Are we really going to say that we trust 16 year-olds in the US to wield one-ton weapons at 65mph but not to make decisions about their own bodies?
The other hand:
- "Consent" is not very court-friendly. Rape cases, especially in the event of acquaintance rape, are notoriously difficult to prove. Every country has its own problems with low rape conviction rates. This is particularly pertinent in consideration of point number 2:
- Teenagers need to be protected from adults with devious intentions. They are impressionable, and, more often that not, incredibly naive. Be honest, when you were 14 did you really know where your genitals were and what they could do? Yes, you say? Damn. Well alright then, Mrs. "I didn't get pulled out of family life education in middle school!" Rub it in.
- Does anyone really NEED to be having sex? OK, for purposes of procreation and perpetuation of our species, YES, of course. But a 14 year-old 7th grader has better things to be doing, like homework, and masturbating.
I guess my opinion falls in between. I'd like to see the legal age of a minor set at 16.
Any thoughts? I'd love to get some feedback.