Jamaica Observer / Dear Editor, There is a contentious ongoing debate about the age of consent which allows a 16-year-old child in our country to legally engage in sexual activities. It is my considered view that there is a grave anomaly in allowing a child of 16 to engage in sexual activities, which could expose them to the dangers that comes with it, particularly pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

I cannot understand the logic behind our legislators maintaining 16 as the age of consent for sexual relations, while 18 is the age when adulthood and, more importantly, taking up responsibility, actually begins.

There are many 16-year-olds who are just coming to understand their bodies and themselves. They are often not critical thinkers, immature and irresponsible in their conduct, which makes them more vulnerable to negative and unwelcome circumstances such as the lure of sexual predatory animals who call themselves men.

It cannot be that the challenges and responsibilities that comes with life, including sex, are taken on at 18 when adulthood begins, but a child can take up the responsibility of having sex at 16. What we have essentially done with this outrageous arrangement is to force ripe our children into adulthood.

Since our laws enable them to engage in sexual activities, then they will be empowered to act like adults and possibly conduct themselves irresponsibly.

A 16-year-old cannot vote, cannot work full-time, regular jobs or take up the responsibility of pregnancy and other adult activities. However, in our wisdom, it is acceptable for them to have sex. Something is seriously wrong with this arrangement.

A child is a child. They should do what children do. Children should be educated about sex and the responsibilities that come with it, but they should not engage in sexual activities until they reach adulthood and are responsible enough to deal with the consequences.

There are persons who argue that raising the age of consent to 18 would criminalise more men. But is that a reasonable justification not to review the current arrangement?

Men who are sexually abusing and impregnating our children should not be protected or encouraged. The law should deal with them.

At the very least, the current age of consent should be reviewed in light of the adult responsibilities that we force upon our children in enabling them to have sex at 16.

Dujon Russell [email protected]

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