|Experts split over review of consent age|
|Thursday, 30 August 2012 08:54am|
©The Star (Used by permission)
PETALING JAYA: Experts are divided on whether the age of 16 in cases of statutory rape should be reviewed due to children maturing at a younger age.
Lawyer Edmund Bon said maturity and their understanding of sex and consent should be considered.
“The education system needs to provide advance sex education, teach children their rights, make them more assertive and help them understand what rape is and what consent means,” he said, but declined to state if he was in favour of either increasing or reducing the age of consent from 16.
Lawyer Karpal Singh said although 16 was acceptable in cases of statutory rape, the Attorney-General could study if it was necessary to lower the age.
However, senior consultant community paediatrician in Ipoh Datuk Dr Amar Singh said people should ask themselves if they would want their daughters to have sex at age 13 or 14.
“This is not about restricting their freedom but whether they are in a position to decide for themselves when older men take advantage of them,” he said.
Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam said 16 had been recognised as the age when a teenager could recognise and be responsible for sexual relations.
“Relationships between young adults and girls, especially those below 14, are not a fair playing field because when a girl is emotionally dependent on an adult, she will be more vulnerable to having sex,” he said.
Lawyer Honey Tan said it would not be wise to reduce the age limit.
“We should look at studies regarding the impact of having sex at a very young age from the physical, psychological and emotional angles,” she said.
Tan said she was concerned that judges seemed to think that young girls of 12 and 13 could consent to having sexual intercourse when they had been “socialised” to be “respectful to their elders”.
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