On Monday, a 41 year-old man, who admitted guilt on “two counts of making extreme pornographic images and one count of sexual activity with a child”, was sentenced Monday regarding the latter crime of sexually abusing a 13 year-old girl in London’s Snaresbrook Crown Court.
There are several shocking aspects of this episode. First, my liberal use of the word “sentenced”. The judge sentenced the admitted abuser, Neil Wilson, to a mere eight months in jail. However, believing this too harsh, suspended the sentence for two years, commenting that “the girl was predatory and she was egging you on.”
The girl, 13. The abuser, 41.
But wait. There’s more.
One of the barristers arguing the case claimed the following about the victim: “The girl is predatory in all her actions and she is sexually experienced.”
This might have been expected from, say, a defence attorney. However, the barrister making that claim represented the Crown Prosecution Service. The prosecuting attorney. The guy representing the state, society, and the 13 year-old victim.
When explained in those terms, the predator is a 13 year-old girl. The defenceless victim, a 41 year-old man. The guilty party was probably lamenting investing cash money in defence counsel, seeing as how it was completely redundant.
When a judge, and the barrister representing the state, undermine the case of a 13 year-old victim because she’s, well, a girl, it simply reaffirms what we already know: institutionalised misogyny is well entrenched in British society. To quote Polly Toynbee in today’s Guardian:
But underlying attitudes revealed in this case lift the lid, yet again, on the depth of misogyny in this society – all the women-hating, woman-blaming, woman-fearing instincts that can reach right to the top. How easy if it were just that handful of sad misfits exposed for sending threatening rape-tweets to feminist campaigners. But it’s everywhere, ready to break out of an all-too-thin carapace of what its perpetrators call “political correctness” keeping it in check.
Legally, morally, the 13 year-old victim is innocent. Period, full stop. Yes, the age of consent in England is 16, and presumably, it’s possible for a 13 year-old to appear 16, and . . . who the fuck cares? The adult is supposed to be in possession of judgment. The child is legally and morally innocent because she is not expected to have a similarly developed sense of judgment.
It should really be that simple.
That the representatives of the state — those presumably on the side of civility and of the victim — explicitly and grotesquely critiqued the 13 year-old victim for leading the defenceless adult man astray is shameful. To close with Toynbee:
We know nothing about this girl, but we know one big thing: children are innocent. Children cannot give consent to their own abuse, below the age of 16. We can surmise what “experience” this girl may have had before, what abuse or neglect the judge and lawyers didn’t bother to delve into. There have been so many cases where we know who the vulnerable children are, lacking adult affection and attention, seeking it with the only thing that makes an adult notice their existence – sex. But the idea that a 13-year-old was a “predator” and a 41-year-old man just her victim sweeps all that away.
While on this happy subject, here’s Amanda Marcotte on sexual harassment in the skeptic/secularist/science education movement.