This research paper is intended to define what statutory rape is, its difference from the common rape case and its micro and macro effects. It also aims to give an opinion regarding the enforcement of the much controversial statutory rape laws, based on facts gathered from several sources- all of which would be acknowledged. In the succeeding pages, the researcher would be presenting definitions from several reliable sources. Also, the laws which would be stated in this paper would be taken from several states in the US wherein statutory rape is in the hot seat of the legal arena. These laws further exemplify either the under-enforcement or over-enforcement of statutory rape laws which many analysts and advocacies claim.An analysis of these allegations regarding the statutory rape laws would require the researcher to present the existing laws regarding statutory rape and criticize it in an objective manner through which the researcher would get both the weak and strong points of the laws passed regarding the said crime.
The existing laws in this research paper would be based on different statutory rape laws passed in the US- paying particular attention to several states in which statutory rape and the laws revolving around it are of much issue and controversy.Furthermore, since the research would be based on the laws regarding statutory rape, it would be presumed that the laws are based on the constitution of the United States at large. However, the constitutionalities of these laws are not being questioned by this paper. Only the leniency or exaggeration of putting them into life and implementing them are being analyzed and given light.In this light, this paper would raise the following thesis questions:1. What is statutory rape and how does it differ from an ordinary rape case?2. What is the status quo of statutory rape in the United States?3.
How doe it affect the victim, the offender and the society, as well?4. What laws are implemented regarding this crime and are these laws effectively enforced?5. What proposals can we suggest in order to deter these occurrences in the society?INTRODUCTIONSexual offence can be compared to a very broad spectrum of light wherein each wavelength and light intensity differs from another. At one side, the intensity is weak and light while on the opposite side, it is dark and heavy. Sexual offences greatly vary in the same manner. Identifying a certain type of sexual offence depends on several significant data and circumstances- both objective and subjective.
This certain offence may come in the form of the simplest exhibitionism, incest, up to the highest degree of a rape case.However, the most controversial type of rape as of these days is statutory rape. It is a type of sexual offence which may be under different circumstances however; it is defined as a crime of committing a sexual intercourse with a minor- whose age is still below the age of consent (AOC). Statutory rape may be interchangeably used with the terms carnal knowledge of a minor, corruption of a minor or rape of a child- all of which refer to the same crime.
Statutory rape is a very concerning crime especially today because it is rising at an alarming rate. In the United States alone, it was estimated that two-thirds of all pregnancy to unmarried teenage girls are fathered by adult men- that is how rampant the problem is. It has been affecting many teenagers most especially in terms of the female.
Also, the laws have been mostly targeting the teenage boys, in the public perspective- which make the age-gender group quite anxious when in fact; the statutory rape laws are aimed most commonly at adult males.Also, the increase of this crime’s likelihood makes the female teenager extra-cautious because of the high occurrence of the crime. However, statutory rape is not just focused on and limited to the common rape cases which involve harassment and violence casted upon the victim by the sexual offender. The differences and similarities between a common rape case and a statutory rape case will be defined in the succeeding lines.
In this regard, there are a growing number of advocacies and even professionals which discusses and pushes the nation into fighting for the enforcement of statutory rape laws and deterring these sexual offenders from “preying into children”. However, although there are laws regarding statutory rape, there are also people who are concerned regarding both the leniency and exaggeration of law enforcers in different cases of statutory rape. Also, many view these laws as impractical and not universal which therefore makes it not applicable to all sorts of statutory rape. Since statutory rape is a very complex case, it therefore needs extreme laws which should be universal and all-encompassing.COMMON RAPE CASE VS STATUTORY RAPEBased on the ideology that a person below the age of majority is not yet capable of giving a sexual consent, the term statutory rape came into life.
Before, in the medieval ages, there was already an existing idea for statutory rape since they believe that it is illegal to commit sexual intercourse with a maiden below the age of 12. As of these days, the age of consent for most states ranges from the age 14 to 18, with the age 16 as the mode.Statutory rape case differs from a common rape case due to several factors. First and foremost, the age is a vital determinant between the two cases. For example, in a sexual intercourse with a female below the age of consent, the possible case would be statutory rape. However, if the sexual assault occurred involving two persons both in the age of majority, the case would be a common rape case. Also, we should put in mind that rape case is not just limited to a sexual offense wherein the victim is a female because a male rape also happens, though not as common as those which involves females as victims.Another difference is that sexual coercion need not be present in statutory rape since the child is still incapable of giving consent for sex.
In this way, any sexual intercourse with a minor is deemed coercive even without overt coercion. Oppositely, in the case of a common rape case, coercion and force is necessary because the victim already has the capability of acquiescence.In this certain characteristic of statutory rape, a problem regarding laws preventing it arises because there are also cases wherein the teenage girl (in most cases) discloses to the authority that she has a mutual relationship with the man and gave him consent of having sex with her. This and other problems regarding the applicability of the statutory rape laws would be discussed in the succeeding pages.EFFECTS OF STATUTORY RAPE TO THE SOCIETYFatherlessnessSince statutory rape involves a coercive sexual intercourse involving a victim below the AOC, the first problem would be the increase in the likelihood of fatherlessness in the country. Since marriage is still an illegal act for the minor, the child would be born without a father adding to the population of children in the custody of a single mother. Teen pregnancies out of wedlock is a very significant contributing factor to this concerning phenomenon.
Teenage PregnancyTeenage pregnancy comes in the way when the victim gets pregnant after the offence without the blessing of marriage. In the statistics of the United States over the last thirty years, every year, there are about a million females in the age of 15-19 who get pregnant and more than 52% of these gives birth to the child (others either abort or miscarry it) and out of this 52% of women giving birth,72% are out of wedlock. With this, the occurrences of a teenage mother struggling for providing a living to the child would increase at an alarming level.
Welfare DependenceThird, the government budget would allocate a higher amount for the welfare of these children and mothers out of wedlock since it is the responsibility of the state to provide them life and assure them of their well-being in many aspects. This equates to the increase of welfare dependency of the citizens since many children are being given birth with these inherent conditions. Actually, teenage pregnancy and birth out of wedlock had already been identified as major obstacle to the nation’s health and state of well being because they eat up a pretty high percent of the state’s money.
PovertyTeenage pregnancy and single-parenthood is clearly correlated with poverty and it is also true the other way around. Because of the picture of a mother struggling to provide for his child, poverty would be a very possible future awaiting them. Since statutory rape victims are seldom brought into the altar by the offenders, a life wherein two persons are working for their child’s life is next to impossible.Sexual AbuseAnd lastly, the most concerning effect of statutory rape is the coercion and sexual abuse casted upon the victims most especially the teenage girls. In fact, in a study regarding the teenage mothers of Washington revealed that two-thirds of the populations were victims of sexual abuse, statutory rape, and attempted rape prior to their pregnancy. More than that, experiencing this crime is very detrimental to the psychological and social well-being of the victim making them inferior and feel as outcasts of the society.
STATUTORY RAPE LAWSStatutory rape laws have been the subject of many controversies in the legal arena. Many are opposing it while others support it. There are many claims regarding its enforcement as very exaggerated while others claim that the enforcement is never taken seriously by the law enforcers.
“In the United States, statutory rape laws vary from one state to another”. However, all laws revolve around an astounding principle: that a person below the age of consent is incapable of giving permission to someone for having sex with him or her. The age of consent varies from each state, too. Also, statutory rape need not be forceful and coercive which therefore means that even though the victim did not resist and even gave consent, as long as he or she is below the AOC- statutory rape is the crime committed and will always be filed against the person who is older- may it be male or female. (Succeeding laws taken from LaborLawTalk.
com)The Federal LawAt large, the federal laws on statutory rape revolve around the act of crossing state borders in order to have a “legal sex”. Since each state has a different AOC from another, there is a big possibility that the sex offender may bring the victim to a state where the act of coitus is deemed legal. It is stated in the federal law that having sex with a person under the age of consent is still illegal though the location of the intercourse is a place where the age of the victim is already considered legal. The same penalties still apply, meaning, conviction may lead to reclusion perpetua or even death penalty.The Kansas State LawIn the succeeding lines, different laws were obtained from several states where statutory rape has been much of an issue.
First off is the state of Kansas where statutory rape is considered a felony when a person commits sex with a minor under the age of 14. However, Kansas laws also offer a lesser case which is called indecent liberties with a crime which applies to a sexual contact involving a child between the ages 14 and 16. The consequences of these crimes are much lesser than former crime. This special case called “indecent liberties with a child” would really catch attention because somehow, we can see a leniency in this law because it is a crime separate with statutory rape.Although it also involves the same circumstances- that an offender committed sex with a minor below the AOC, the consequences are less grave. Therefore, we can predict than in this law, there would be a view which holds that having sex with a child aged 14-16 may be a crime but is not as serious as sex with a child below 14. Also, with the less grave penalties for the special case, sexual offenders would have more potential in having sex with this age group (14-16). Also, this law failed to see that in a statutory rape case (as defined legally); age does not matter as long as it is below the age of consent.
Therefore, sex with a child 14-16 years old is just the same with sex involving a child below 14- which means that the charges should not be diminished.The New York LawStatutory rape in New York is very similar to other states. Only that the laws in New York are more complicated than other states. With the age of the victim and the offender seriously considered, the laws in New York are really strict. There are three types of statutory rape for New York: the first, second and third degree- each varying depending on the age of the offender and the victim but similar in that the crime committed is sex with a minor even without brute force or coercion.Third degree rape is committed when an offender aged 21 or older commits sex with a minor at 17 years or younger. Second degree rape is when an 18 year old offender commits sex with a fifteen year old victim. And lastly, first degree rape- the most serious degree is commission of sex involving an offender (at any age) and a victim below 11 years old, OR, if the offender is 18 years old and commits sex with a thirteen years or younger.
In the definitions of statutory rape in New York, we can see the seriousness of the law and its enforcement which is quite impressive however, in the part of the punishment; we can see an exaggeration of this law.In other states, punishments are not that complicated and are justifiable, in terms of being human. Like in Massachusetts, charge and conviction of statutory rape is punished with imprisonment no less than 18 months. In New York however, when convicted of this crime, the penalty would be imprisonment anywhere from seven to twenty-five years. Considering the case, which is statutory rape, my opinion is that the punishment is quite exaggerated and over-enforced.
Statutory rape, we should all remember, is having sex even with the permission of a person below the age of consent. In most cases, even the said to be “victim” discloses that he or she is also willing to have sex, although immaterial since the case is a statutory rape. However, I believe that the aim of the punishment is not about destroying the future of the offender but more of making him realize that having sex with a child below the AOC is illegal. Even at the least length of imprisonment which is seven years, the experience is already traumatic to the offender to the extent that his or her future is already destroyed just because of giving into the consent of the “victim”. We should also take into consideration that in some cases, because of the “victim’s” willingness to have sex with the “offender” there are instances that the “victim” lies about his or her age so that the “offender” would not hesitate in taking his or her offer of having sex. The California Status QuoBased on national records, California recorded the highest rate of teenage pregnancy with two-thirds of the annual 70 000 child births identified with teenage mothers who were impregnated by adults 20 years and older. The prevention of California regarding statutory rape has been very strict and aggressive due to the fact that annually, California releases an amount ranging from $5-7 billion in aiding families started by teenagers.
The Californian local government is really doing their best because they believe in the projected outcome of a continued upward trend of teenage pregnancy brought about mostly by statutory rape that these children out of wedlock have a high tendency not to finish school, engage in drugs, and become the next generation of teenagers getting pregnant at an early age. .Aside from Kansas and New York Statutory Rape Laws and California, there are many other states which exhibit either the leniency or exaggeration of these laws. There are many other reasons why these laws are being deemed unlawful by many. Perhaps one reason of this occurrence is that Statutory Rape cases may or may not involve force and therefore, the verdict and penalty should also be based on these circumstances. The laws will not be able to fit all situations justifiably.In fact, even in history, rape laws have been claimed as limited laws and are unable to provide efficient and just results.
In an article by Colb (2004), “she made use of a definition by British Jurist Matthew Hale which states that rape is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved and harder to be defended by the party accused, though never so innocent.”SUGGESTIONS FOR DETERRING STATUTORY RAPEStatutory rape is indeed a very concerning phenomenon in the society not only affecting the persons involved in the commission of the crime but even the society at large. The laws enacted by different states are in such turmoil which is why everyone needs to be aware of the pros and cons of statutory rape. Moreover, we should also consider these statutory rape laws only as aids in preventing these cases, as secondary interventions which we should regard to at the end of the day. The home is still the best institution which can help avoid these societal problems.First and foremost, educating the child is the most important part of awareness. Talking to the child regarding his or her problems and difficulties not only at home but even at school and in the society is a good way of helping your child out of these kinds of mess. Since many teenagers resort to sex because of their personal problems, talking your child out is very necessary.
Also, being open with the child’s life especially with her relationship with his or her boyfriend or girlfriend is a big help because as parents, you are the one’s who should supervise and be one with all that is happening to the child, be it small or big events. Giving them advice on things most especially on things regarding sex is a good start in preventing teenage pregnancies.PROPOSALS FOR EFFECIENCY OF LAWSSince the laws regarding statutory rape cases are being put into hot seats, it would be necessary to make these laws more efficient and create a new image of justifiability and goal-oriented.First is about creating a law which increases the penalty of the crime however being faithful to the circumstances and considering every detail of the offense.
It is also important that the age between the offender and the victim be greatly emphasized and that the consent that the victim to have been given should also be nevertheless given a little consideration.Also, as stated earlier, statutory rape increases welfare dependency and cuts a lot of money from the government fund. In this connection, it is also ideal to impose civil sanctions and punishments to the offender so that the victim and the child (if there is) can be given protection and resources for their treatment like psychological treatment in case trauma resulted to the incidence.Lastly, it would also be considerable to raise the age of consent to the age of 18 so that the prosecution of these cases would be easier and significant to common rape cases.
Also, it would help in regaining the relationship of sex and marriage since the age 18 is the legal age of marriage in almost all countries. Re-linking sex with the context of marriage may be achieved through this, thus raising the morality of people in terms of sexual relationship with their partners.CONCLUSIONStatutory rape is indeed a very sensitive issue nowadays. It is climbing at a very concerning rate and positively, the government has provided laws which will help deter these happenings. However, although laws are being passed and implemented, their enforcement is not that reliable.
Even the laws themselves are somehow incapable of ruling and fitting all cases into one.In this light, statutory rape programs by the government are already being created so that these things will be intervened primarily and would not get into the point of convicting persons and penalizing them into jail. Although the government is the primary mover of preventing these things, people should also remember their integral role in molding their children into productive members of the society. ENDNOTES:Boyer, D.
, & Fine D. “Sexual Abuse as a Factor in Adolescent Pregnancy and Child Maltreatment,” Family Planning Perspectives, January/February 1992, 24.Colb, Sherry F.
“The pros and cons of statutory rape laws: A 10 year sentence for Marcus Dwayne Dixon”. 2004. Retrieved last October 23, 2007 from <