Consent? What consent?

Last year, in August, a wrote about ‘Danielgate’; and even contributed a comment about it on Al Jazeera English’s ‘The Stream’ program.

Danielgate brought many issues about in Morocco to the fore — child abuse, paedophiles, poverty, monarchy, corruption, colonianlism, tourism, and freedom of speech.

This past week, two other stories of child abuse caught my attention, both almost as incomprehensible as Danielgate to me.

Italy — 60-year-old man walks free after abusing 11-year-old

If that sub-head doesn’t get you angry enough, wait until you hear the reason why he was allowed to go free: apparently the girl was amorous, in love, and his having sex with her was not abusive. That is right. That is what the supreme court concluded.

Pietro Lamberti, a social services worker from Catanzaro in Italy’s south was sentenced in Feburary 2011 to five years in prison after sexual acts with a minor. Calabrian newspaper Il Quotidiano della Calabria reported that the victim came from a poor family who had known and trusted the social worker; who was caught naked in best with the girl following a wire-tap investigation by police.

United States — 14-year-old girl ‘consented’ to being raped by 40-year-old corrections officer

Here’s a fact: this abuse happened in the state of Louisiana; the age of consent in Louisiana is 17.

This case should be very straightforward. Except it hasn’t been.

The girl, incarcerated at a corrections facility, is now part of a case where the local authorities are arguing they are not liable because she consented. Now 20 years of age, the girl has filed a civil lawsuit against the guard, and the local authorities.

Documents filed with the court say that the guard, ‘…could not have engaged in sexual relations within the walls of the detention center with [the victim] without cooperation from her. Vickers [the guard] did not use force, violence or intimidation when engaging in sexual relations.’

I repeat — the age of consent in Louisiana is 17.

Both of these stories are a reminder that it isn’t just the third-world that is making exceptions for abusers, and failing children, and that everyone needs to do much, much better.

(Story cover image source:

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