A prominent barrister specialising in reproductive rights has called for the age of consent to be lowered to 13.
Barbara Hewson told online magazine Spiked that the move was necessary in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal to end the “persecution of old men”.
She also said that complainants should no longer receive anonymity.
The NSPCC called her views “outdated and simply ill-informed” and said to hear them “from a highly experienced barrister simply beggars belief”.
Her remarks come after a number of high-profile arrests over allegations of historical sexual offences in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Among those to have been convicted is former BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall, who admitted 14 charges of indecently assaulting girls, including one aged nine, between 1967 and 1985.
Ms Hewson described Hall’s crimes as “low-level misdemeanours” which “ordinarily… would not be prosecuted”.
“What we have here is the manipulation of the British criminal justice system to produce scapegoats on demand. It is a grotesque spectacle,” she said.
“It’s time to end this prurient charade, which has nothing to do with justice or the public interest.”
She argues for an end to complainant anonymity, a strict statute of limitations to prevent prosecutions after a substantial amount of time has passed and a reduction in the age of consent to 13.
She said that “touching a 17-year-old’s breast, kissing a 13-year-old, or putting one’s hand up a 16-year-old’s skirt” are not crimes comparable to gang rapes and murders and “anyone suggesting otherwise has lost touch with reality”.
The NSPCC described crimes such as Hall’s as “incredibly serious” and said that “to minimise and trivialise the impact of these offences for victims in this way is all but denying that they have in fact suffered abuse at all.
“Any suggestion of lowering the age of consent could put more young people at risk from those who prey on vulnerable young people.”
It also argued that complainant anonymity should be maintained and that historical prosecutions should be allowed as “many who are abused are bullied, blackmailed and shamed into staying silent, often well into adulthood”.
The Hardwicke chambers, where Ms Hewson works in London, said it dissociated itself from her comments.
I do not support the persecution of old men. The manipulation of the rule of law by the Savile Inquisition – otherwise known as Operation Yewtree – and its attendant zealots poses a far graver threat to society than anything Jimmy Savile ever did.
Now even a deputy speaker of the House of Commons is accused of male rape. This is an unfortunate consequence of the present mania for policing all aspects of personal life under the mantra of ‘child protection’.
We have been here before. England has a long history of do-gooders seeking to stamp out their version of sexual misconduct by force of the criminal law. In the eighteenth century, the quaintly named Society for the Reformation of Manners funded prosecutions of brothels, playwrights and gay men.
In the 1880s, the Social Purity movement repeatedly tried to increase the age of consent for girls from 13 to 16, despite parliament’s resistance. At that time, puberty for girls was at age 15 (now it is 10). The movement’s supporters portrayed women as fragile creatures needing protection from men’s animal impulses. Their efforts were finally rewarded after the maverick editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, WT Stead, set up his own secret commission to expose the sins of those in high places.
After procuring a 13-year-old girl, Stead ran a lurid exposé of the sex industry, memorably entitled ‘The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon’. His voyeuristic accounts under such titles as ‘Strapping girls down’ and ‘Why the cries of the victims are not heard’ electrified the Victorian public. The ensuing moral panic resulted in the age of consent being raised in 1885, as well as the criminalisation of gross indecency between men.
By contrast, the goings-on at the BBC in past decades are not a patch on what Stead exposed. Taking girls to one’s dressing room, bottom pinching and groping in cars hardly rank in the annals of depravity with flogging and rape in padded rooms. Yet the Victorian narrative of innocents despoiled by nasty men endures.
What is strikingly different today is how Britain’s law-enforcement apparatus has been infiltrated by moral crusaders, like the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). Both groups take part in Operation Yewtree, which looks into alleged offences both by and not by Savile.
These pressure groups have a vested interest in universalising the notion of abuse, making it almost as prevalent as original sin, but with the modern complication that it carries no possibility of redemption, only ‘survival’. The problem with this approach is that it makes abuse banal, and reduces the sympathy that we should feel for victims of really serious assaults (1).
But the most remarkable facet of the Savile scandal is how adult complainants are invited to act like children. Hence we have witnessed the strange spectacle of mature adults calling a children’s charity to complain about the distant past.
Germany’s opposition Greens party has decided to designate an independent researcher to shed light on the influence a pro-paedophilia group had within the party in the 1980s, a leading party member says.
The advocates of legalising sex with children were part of a group also pushing for gay, lesbian and transsexual rights in the early days of the party that grew out of the 1970s peace, anti-nuclear and ecologist movements.
Juergen Trittin, the party’s parliamentary leader and one of two top candidates in September elections, announced the move at a media conference, acknowledging the party had made “bad decisions” on the issue of paedophilia.
He referred in particular to a 1985 decision at a regional party conference when delegates argued in favour of sexuality between adults and children to be exempt from punishment.
The Greens, a party established in then-West Germany in 1980, subsequently failed to win any seats in the region’s parliament.
The party went on to govern Germany in coalition with the Social Democrats between 1998 and 2005.
The researcher, who has yet to be assigned, will be tasked with examining how long and to what extent advocates of legalising sex with minors may have influenced the party.
A report by news weekly Der Spiegel in its latest edition on Monday, based on the party’s archives, said the Greens leadership in the 1980s had financed a working group in favour of legalising sex between adults and children.
“Protecting children from sexual abuse was and remains a central concern,” Spiegel Online quoted party co-chairman Cem Ozdemir as saying.
this is where its all heading..people have been warning of this for years and have been howled down..but inch by inch they push an agenda..”those poor old guys who have been fondling kids”..sure they should be allowed to get away with it and lets make it legal..wtf?
“advocates of legalising sex with children were part of a group also pushing for gay, lesbian and transsexual rights in the early days of the party that grew out of the 1970s peace, anti-nuclear and ecologist movements”
see how a cause thats quite acceptable gets tagged onto a cause that is totally intolerable..and if you stand against it you are labelled a conservative nutcase..wedged..