In the Media

Child sexual abuse is never consensual, whatever the victim's behaviour | Ella Cockbain and Helen Brayley

PUBLISHED September 27, 2012

Today a report on the Rochdale child abuse case revealed that some officials believe sexually exploited children are "making their own choices". It's hardly surprising to hear that some under-16-year-olds are having sex: a one-size-fits-all age of consent doesn't accommodate individual differences. What is surprising is that the children in question weren't exploring sex with their peers, but were having sex with much older adults. Consider this scenario: A 12-year-old is repeatedly raped by a family friend who tells her it's their little secret. She doesn't scream and cry each time, she doesn't try to fight him off and she doesn't tell anyone. Did she consent to sex? No, of course not. Why then is it such a struggle for some to grasp that teenage victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE) don't consent either?

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