13 April 2012

No Justice from Brazil's Courts for Child Prostitutes

Neither the knowledge that in Brazil sexual mores are more relaxed than in the United States, nor and that prostitution as such is not illegal in that country, prepared me for what I read in a recent artice from The Economist.

First, since 2009 the age of consent in Brazil is 14. I'm not sure if there are any further conditions involved, but 14? Such could be considered normal 100 years ago in either the United States or Brazil, but in our modern times with age of majority set at 18, 14 seems unreasonable.

Second -- and more shocking to me -- was a decision from Brazil’s highest criminal court on March 27th that girls as young as 12 can give proper consent if they have have sufficient sexual knowledge and experience. The case in question involved an adult man who had sex with three 12-year-old girls in 2002. Rather than set the age of consent at 12, the decision from the court was that these situations need to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

As noted in the article from The Economist, child prostitution often begins with rape. Thus a girl who has been raped then has enough understanding of sex (so it seems) to then consent to further sexual acts.

Regardless of whether a girl is familiar with sex or not, I believe society needs to make a decision to protect its most vulnerable members. Girls at age 12, regardless of whether they have had sex before or are otherwise "innocent," need to be protected.

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