Sex therapists criticise criminal code’s lowering age of consent

The new criminal code passed by the lower house this week has come under fire from many of the country’s sex therapists for one simple reason: lowering criminal responsibility from the age of 15 to 14, the code also lowers the age of consent. Critics contend that is a serious mistake, which will put young teens at far greater risk.

The new criminal code passed by the country’s lower house this week introduced a veritable revolution in how crimes will be measured, but not all proposed changes are seen as positive. Just days after it was passed by MPs, the code has come under fire from the country’s sex therapists. The reason is simple: in addition to lowering criminal responsibility the new proposal also lowers the age of consent.

The bill’s authors argue that anyone old enough to take responsibility for their actions should also have the right to choose whether or not they have sexual intercourse. However the experts say the change in legislation, will significantly increase the risk for young teens: 14 is described by specialists as an age when youths are particularly susceptible, too early for most to make a choice on consent. Likewise, the new law would put them at greater risk from adult sex offenders. Petr Weiss is a respected Prague-based therapist:

“I welcome the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to 14 but I don’t understand why legislators also lowered the age of consent. It will only mean that our youth will be at greater risk from sex abuse a whole year earlier. Adult offenders will be unafraid to prey on them sooner. Also, psychologically 14 year-olds aren’t growing-up faster than they were before, so why lower the age of consent?”

Proponents of the new criminal code argue that similar legislation does exist elsewhere citing for example Austria, which also has 14 as the age of consent. But, regardless many Czech doctors aren’t buying it. Petr Weiss again:

“If you look at countries like Slovakia and Germany they too lowered the age of criminal responsibility but Germany for example kept the age of consent at 16. Why link the two issues?

Sex therapists are also criticising lawmakers for not consulting them before drafting the new bill. As it stands the criminal code could still see changes, as it will now need to be passed by the Senate and signed by the president. If passed it would come into effect in 2010.