FixedIt: It’s not “sex” when she’s 13 and he’s 53

The Herald Sun (which makes surprisingly few appearances in FixedIt given how much crime and court reporting it does) reported that a 53 year old man pleaded guilty to grooming a 13 year old girl in the Philippines. 

“Child sex” does not exist. Children cannot have “sex”. Sex requires consent, children cannot legally or morally give consent so it is not “sex”. Rape is the absence of consent and these words can not be used interchangeably in headlines. 

When we misname child rape as “child sex”, we imply victims gave consent. We tell them the violence someone else chose to do to them when they were a child is the same as sex they can choose to have as an adult.

When the media, as it so persistently does, labels rape and sexual abuse of children as “child sex”, it weakens the public understanding of the extent and effect of such abuse. This has serious effects. A study conducted for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that juries who have a better understanding of the facts of child sexual abuse are less likely to make mistakes in their assessment of evidence given in court.

Rape is not sex. Stop calling it what it isn’t and start calling it what it is.

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron

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