Conscience Over Consent

Washington, DC (TFC) – While it is true that everyone matures, both physically and mentally at different rates, I do not believe that one should leave their conscience at the door if an individual gives their consent.

Children mature at different rates physically, just as they do mentally and emotionally. Perhaps a 13 year old girl appears physically mature.  Does this mean that she is emotionally ready to have sex, and mentally capable of making that decision? No, she is not. You could also have a 35 year old who is physically mature enough, but not mentally capable of handling a sexual relationship.

Personally I matured very early (in all respects); however, I can honestly say that, as a preteen, I would not have been ready to handle a sexual relationship or the potential repercussions that go along with it. So, if Tracy Quan was able to endure life in the sex trade beginning at the age of 13, not only survived, but looked back on it as a smart decision, then I would say that she’s a rarity. Most don’t survive that path unscathed, if they do survive.

Weeping girl. Image Source: Stuart Dallas, Flickr, Creative Commons

Weeping girl.
Image Source: Stuart Dallas, Flickr, Creative Commons

Perhaps some will disagree with me here, however, I’m of the opinion that there isn’t a 10 year old alive who is capable of making such a monumental decision. I realize that the maturity and lifestyles of a ten year old vary greatly from one culture to the next.  Regardless, I just don’t see how a child can choose to become a sex worker and fully understand all that it will entail. Rather than put Quan on any sort of pedestal and proclaim how, as an independent woman you too can succeed in any field, literally, if you’re your own boss shouldn’t we delve into the emotional state of a child who was planning to become a sex worker at such a young age? This is not a choice that the vast majority of children would willingly make, let alone plan for, and for three years at that.

I could go into detail about the evils of human trafficking, specifically pertaining to the sex trade, and how it’s not uncommon to see children being bought and sold in various parts of the world, but I’ll save that for another time. This is about consent and choice. Whether the underage “working girl” is seemingly willing or not is irrelevant in my mind. Use your conscience and think before you act. That child is just that, someone’s child.  They are somebody’s niece/nephew, sister/brother, grandchild, cousin.

Sex workers aside, the same rule applies. If a very young girl, or one who is mentally ill or disabled consents, you really need to use your moral compass in situations such as those. Physical maturity does not necessarily equate to a mature emotional state. Always bear that in mind. I’m not saying that natural sexual curiosity and experimentation is wrong.  I’m not.  Youthful experimentation is quite different than becoming a prostitute. When it comes to relationships between teens, those tend to be viewed as more of a black and white area in some courtrooms and I think it’s a bit gray, provided that both teens are of a sound mind, or, as sound as one can be during those tumultuous years.

A 15 year old and an 18 year old, for example, would not be legally able to be together in many states, despite the fact that the 15 year old may very well be more mentally mature than the 18 year old. The fact of the matter is that teens are still very young, technically children, until the age of 18.  Rather than attempting to justify why certain relationships between older adults and children shouldn’t be allowed, I’m going to leave you with this:

There are a great many things that we will want (and need) to protect our children from throughout their lifetimes. Having the age of consent abolished or lowered in order to, ultimately, allow predators freer rein should not be one of the things that we have to worry about.